William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet
Last month’s passage of an NJ State bill to increase funding for school districts who have not gotten their fair share of aid has resulted in over a $500,000 cutback in state funding for Gloucester City schools. The new plan was the brain-child of NJ State Senator Steve Sweeney (D).
Under this spending plan that money will now go to districts that have been underfunded by the state for many years, according to Sweeney. For example, the Kingsway Regional School District will see an increase in aid of four percent this upcoming school year.
Senate President Sweeney, Assemblyman John Burzichelli, and Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro met with local officials, educators, and community members to discuss the new state budget on July 13 at Kingsway. The budget will add $150 million in aid and reallocate $30 million to underfunded districts as the first step towards full funding. (source NJ.com)
Earlier this month Sweeney said,
"It's a matter of fairness. The 50 school districts receiving the largest Adjustment Aid reductions have 17,500 fewer students sitting in their classrooms today than they did in 2008 but were are still getting money for those students. The 50 underfunded districts gaining the most additional school aid have 12,500 more students today than they did in 2008, and they haven't been getting any money to pay for those students."
"We cannot afford to keep paying out hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid for students who are no longer there, and it isn't fair to taxpayers in underfunded districts that they are paying 10 percent more than their local fair share of property taxes to make up for the lack of state aid." (source: NJ Education Aid)
The Gloucester City Education Association (GCEA) contacted union members recently urging them to attend the upcoming School Board meeting on August 1 at the high school media room. The meeting starts at 7 pm. The members were told to write their legislators complaining about the cut back even though Gloucester City has been receiving more aid than it should have, according to Sweeney.
That email message signed by the GCEA Executive Team reads in part;
Dear GCEA members, As you may have heard, the new state budget approved on July 3rd has defunded OUR school budget by $512,000. This is a huge blow to our district. The school board is now reviewing operating expenses for the year and trying to cut costs where it can. The GCEA is working with NJEA to protect our members and help the board find the best solution.
There are two things that you should do in the short term. FIRST, write or call your legislators and tell them how the new state budget has taken money from former Abbott districts, and how this will impact our school district, students, and staff. SECONDLY, please put Tuesday, August 1st into your calendar and plan on attending the BOE meeting if possible. At that point in time, there may be some information about cost-cutting measures the Board is considering for the upcoming school year.
This past Saturday we contacted Superintendent Joseph Rafferty, who will retire in September, about the reduction in aid and asked whether there were plans to cut back administrators before staff to make up the deficit. For example, could money be saved by doing away with one of the two principals at the Cold Springs School along with the Early Childhood Director? Incidentally, in June the assistant principal at that school had her salary increased to $110,000 effective July 1. At the top of the bleachers there would a 145 square foot platform to be used for filming games (source June 2017 meeting minutes)
We asked if the cutback will stop the Board from approving the installation of bleachers to seat 500 people at the new football field being built behind the recently completed $87 million elementary school on Market Street? (Source: More of your money for stadium)
We asked Rafferty if the Board was considering other cost saving ideas like outsourcing custodial duties as well as other non-certified personnel positions?
As of today, we have yet to receive a response.
New Jersey, according to WalletHub, is the number one state with the highest property taxes ( bold type reporter's emphasis) mainly because of the formula used to fund school districts.
CNBNEWS COMMENTARY: One has to wonder if building an $1 million elementary football field in Gloucester City hasn't added to that distinction of NJ being the state with the highest property taxes in America. Half of that money for that field came from the state taxpayers while the remaining monies are coming from the Gloucester City taxpayers.
That field, when completed will also have light for night games. Gloucester City doesn't have an elementary football team. Neither can we find one elementary school in the South Jersey region that has a football team?
So who will they be playing?
If the field is just for soccer then why does it need to be lit at night?
The inconvenience this school and the lit football field will have on the residential neighborhood that surrounds this property is unimaginable.
Besides, Gloucester City already has a lighted football field approximately a mile away at the high school; so why did the state and the city school board construct another one.
The public is fed up with the wasteful spending of their hard earned tax dollars on such projects and it is easy to see why. As a result, Gloucester City and the other 30 Abbott Districts will continue to see the state funding they have been receiving cut backed.
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