Sunday, April 18, 2010

VOTE "NO" ON THE SCHOOL BUDGET AND STOP THE MADNESS!















The following is an op-ed piece by Chris Rogers and myself which was published in the April 15th issue of the Roxbury Review and the April 18th @Issue section of the Morris County Daily Record.

SCHOOL ELECTIONS:
Vote 'No,' and stop the madness

By MAUREEN CASTRIOTTA and CHRIS ROGERS
April 18, 2010

Well, here we go again. Thanks to an 8-to-2 vote by the Roxbury school board, the proposed school budget will increase Roxbury residents' property taxes by yet another 4 percent, but sadly, our students will not benefit from the extra dollars. Why? Because the majority rule in the Roxbury school system has made "shared sacrifice" verboten.

Despite the fact that our school district's financial system and productivity are collapsing under the weight of a depressed economy, overspending and excessive employee salaries and benefits, never once has this blunted the demands of the
administrators and teachers union or strengthened the resolve of the school board to put on the brakes on the runaway train of reckless spending.

The very ones who are crying that Roxbury's school district is on the "brink of educational destruction" have now been given a second chance to help rectify their own part in bringing our schools to this precipice, but once again, their own self-interests have taken priority over working for the collective good of our school system and community.

Thus far, the Roxbury teachers union has not made any concessions to help alleviate the school district's financial burden. The teachers will get their 4.7 percent salary increase and not have to pay a penny toward their health insurance premiums.

And then we have our multiple layers of administrators, supervisors and directors. Although most have agreed to a wage freeze, there will be no cuts in their hefty salaries, or sensible elimination of administrative positions despite the demand by
the public to do so.

The school board is supposed to ensure the tax dollars spent go to places where they are most needed to improve student achievement, so how can they justify continual increased spending for the existing administrative positions without any data
proving this results in direct positive gains for our students?

In our opinion, egos, greed and arrogance have displaced the purpose we seek to pursue in education. The end result is the students, parents and taxpayers will be bearing the brunt of a school budget that will raise property taxes while eliminating teachers, programs and electives, and force the implementation of pay-to-play for sports and extracurricular activities.

As school board members, we voted "No" on this school budget. Now it's up to you to make your voices heard and assume ownership of your school system.

Cast your "No" vote on Tuesday and stop the madness.

Maureen Castriotta and Chris Rogers are members
of the Roxbury Board of Education. The opinions
expressed are their own.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thank you, Gov. Christie, for your political courage

“In whatever arena of life one may meet the challenge of courage, whatever may be the sacrifices he faces if he follows his conscience – the loss of his friends, his fortune, his contentment, even the esteem of his fellow men – each man must decide for himself the course he will follow.”~~~John F. Kennedy

Gov. Chris Christie speaks to Star-Ledger's editorial board about "day of reckoning" budget cuts

By Kelly Heyboer/ The Star-Ledger

March 17, 2010, 10:33PM
John O'Boyle/The Star-Ledger

Gov. Chris Christie answers questions on his proposed budget during a meeting with the Star-Ledger editorial board today. Christie has hit the road to campaign for support of his budget.
A fired-up Gov. Chris Christie visited The Star-Ledger editorial board today to make his case for a proposed state budget that he believes will be the first step in solving New Jersey's financial problems.

The governor made no apologies for his plan to slash school aid, property tax rebate checks, municipal aid and dozens of state programs and departments. He said he is prepared to fight to get the budget through the state Legislature, even if it costs him re-election.

"I've got to fix it. Or I'm going down trying," Christie told the editorial board at The Star-Ledger's Newark office. "I think the public has just had enough."

Christie did not back off his plan to cut taxes to the rich. He said he will not call for renewing an income tax surcharge on families who earn $400,000 or more. The surcharge, which expired last year, would have raised $1 billion for the state coffers if renewed.

The governor said if Democrats legislators wanted the surcharge, they should have passed a bill before it expired last year.

But Christie saved his biggest criticism for the state teachers unions, including the New Jersey Education Association. Teachers may have to give up pay raises and contribute more to their health care plans if school districts can't make ends meet after the proposed state aid cuts.

"The teachers union has a choice here: Do they want to lose members? Or do they want to reopen contracts?" Christie said.

Christie said he suspects the leaders of the NJEA are "crass union bosses" who have little interest in compromising with Trenton lawmakers.

"Those people have been the bullies of State Street . . . and they're not going to bully me," Christie said.

Monday, April 12, 2010