Teachers remain defiant in Roxbury …

You see that teachers in Roxbury have overwhelmingly refused to take a wage freeze next school year … A freeze would save the jobs of many younger teachers.

The question is whether this selfish action will persuade the township council to cut the budget significantly. Some may recall that last year, the council wimped out and authorized a cut of an estimated $500,000 rather than the million dollars originally envisioned.

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About fsnowflack
Fred Snowflack was editorial page editor and a political columnist for the Daily Record of Morristown for almost 12 years. He has won numerous awards for editorial and column writing from the New Jersey Press Association and has written a blog on county and state politics for the last three years. He lives in Ledgewood in Morris County.

18 Responses to Teachers remain defiant in Roxbury …

  1. P says:

    Their budget must easily contain $2M for salary increases, so that’s the MINIMUM that the BC should cut. Add in an administrator or two, round up, and figure $2.5M.

    QED

    Over to your Dr. R.

  2. hfa says:

    Fat Dumb and Happy?

  3. Ted says:

    The teachers union exerts extreme pressure on town councils and sometimes they cave. It’s too bad

    On the other hand, those who opposed the budget in Roxbury didn’t do their homework. All they offered council was a consensus opinion favoring deep cuts. School administration presented detailed analysis of the damage deep cuts would cause. Studied analysis (no matter how bogus) beats angry consensus every time.

    Secondly, Maureen Castriotta’s confrontation over student protest hurt her case. It made her sound like a a mean spirited person trying to kill free speech…on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Kent State Massacre

  4. Ted:
    You are way off.base here. The Castriotta-confrontation, as you called it, was merely her noting that the protest was (in all likelihood) encouraged by the administration because it supported their position. Bringing in Kent State is wholly irrelevant.

  5. Ted says:

    P, careful analysis is required to suggest a cut. For example; if the cut attempts to force wage concessions and the unions don’t concede, there will be an expensive lawsuit as well as cuts to student programs

  6. Ted says:

    No Fred Maureen specifically called the protest a a breech of regulation and said she’d recommend an investigation on that basis.

  7. Ted says:

    Squashing a peaceful protest is what Kent State was about.

  8. P says:

    Actually, there will be layoffs not lawsuits. As long as the teachers believe that they can’t be touched, they have no reason to step up and face reality.

    Most districts have hacked away at everything but staff and staff compensation because of the ridiculous contracts they’ve agreed to (generally under duress).

    Now that the state can’t keep adding money to the comp pot, districts have been forced to acknowledge the reality that they cannot afford to pay the increases in compensation (salaries + annual health care increase) for their entire staff.

    A wage freeze would have fixed most of the gap, but the teachers would rather throw a few of their own over the side rather than admit that they overreached in their last negotiation. Time to drive the point home by bringing the property tax levy increase down to a reasonable level – one to two percent, and let the BOE and REA work out where/how they cuts can be implemented.

  9. Ted says:

    Actually, council needs to steer clear of suggesting specific cuts. It’s an argument administration wants to open because they can claim educational expertise and blow council out of the water. In RT, Counci actully looked at the numbers and gave the BOE various options,none of which effect kids. They left sufficent funds and cut the rest. Council’s goal wasn’t to kill education, justsqueeze them a bit.

    In Roxbury the consensus was no tax increase, an unrealistic goal given contractual agreements. I’m betting that town fathers will tend toward what appears to be a careful analysis presented by district administrators.

  10. P says:

    By law, if a council is cutting the defeated budget, they must identify the specific parts of the budget (with specific $$ amounts for each) that the board could/should cut to get the budget down to the council approved level. The BOE can then accept the new budget, but cut whatever they want to make the new number; or, appeal the council’s cuts to the state DOE (chances of successfully appeal – <0%).

    Having observed BOEs, I would say most of them don't have any real educational or budget expertise, but then again, borough/town councils seem to be as bad, if not worse.

  11. Ted says:

    P, I think you’re wrong. Even if council recommended specific cuts, the BOE is under no obligation to follow suit. From my perspective, RT’s council handled the issue perfectly. They cut deep but made sure BOE decisions don’t have to hurt student programs. If kids suffer, it’s on the board’s head.

    The RT council sent a committee with 14 years of detailed budget experience. In addition, Mike Dachisen is a product of RT schools as are kids and soon his grand children. Alex Gellmen “Doc” is also a lifelong resident who attended RT schools. Doc’s contribution to the world as part of doctors without borders just adds to his wisdom and experience. Finally, Steve Antonelli is a successful business man with significant investment in RT…and he often wolfs down dinner to make council meetings and before that the board of adjustments.

    As a group, they listened to both sides carefully reviewed all data and made the right choice … in 5 days .

    I hope they do as well in Roxbury

  12. P says:

    I think you misunderstood what I wrote. The BC must identify the specific areas and dollars they believe should be cut if they reduce the budget (actually, they are reducing the tax levy, which all that they are certifying). The BOE, if they accept the reduced budget, can cut whatever they want (or even increase anticipated revenue, e.g., use more surplus funds) as long as they submit to the state a budget that matches what the BC approved as a new property tax levy.

  13. Kinsey says:

    Unfortunately,, the one cost that cannot be touched is medical insurance premiums,, which from my experience ( being a small business owner) go up 15-20% a year.. what budget can handle an increase of 15-20% in one of their major expenses!

  14. P says:

    Health Care is another area where BOEs have missed the boat. The average cost per employee is now in the mid-teens and growing at 15 – 25% ($2 – 4K) per year. The total increase can now be as much as the salary increase, and that’s why combined, staff compensation is increasing at 5 – 7% per year.

    Under a 4% cap, this was a disaster, under a 2.5% cap it will destroy public education in NJ. And having staff contribute 1.5% of salary reduces the range for one year to 3.5 – 6%, but does nothing going forward unless teachers agree to plan changes that arrest the out-of-control growth of the HC plans’ cost, or agree to pick up a portion of the annual increase.

    BOEs have to stop allowing teachers and other staff to pretend that the free coverage they have today is a birthright. It is just another piece of their compensation, and in total, comp shouldn’t be increasing by more than 2 – 3%.

    Note – At the current rate of growth, HC costs could exceed salaries as a line item in a BOE budget by the end of the decade!

  15. Hey P — Health care, huh?
    Surprised you did not mention that when reform kicks in, in a few years, there will be more competition within in the industry through the to be created public exchanges and costs should stabilize …
    Then, the school boards and everyone else can thank the Dems and Obama.

  16. P says:

    Fred – I’ll believe it when I see it. And the one part of ObamaCare that could have helped to arrest the cost of school district HC costs was deferred until 2018 (or more likely, NEVER), and that was the tax on Cadillac (i.e., union) health care plans. If people had to pay a 40% tax on the “excessive” portion of the health care coverage they would start to look at cheaper alternatives very quickly. As it is, those plans will continue to grow, unabated.

  17. Telling The Truth says:

    P – Perhaps the Republican leadership should have accepted President Obama’s offer to join in legitimate dialogue on health care reform. Then perhaps there would have been some adjustment on the “Cadillac” health care plans that you mention. Instead, Republican leadership chose to make a cheap political point by demonizing health care reform (as well as to suck up to their insurance industry benefactors.) It was very poor “leadership” that will haunt the Republican party for years to come.

  18. P says:

    TtT – Doubtful. After the unions marched on Capitol Hill and the White House that part of the plan was hastily rewritten to put it so far into the future as to be certain to never happen. As for “reform,” ObamaCare will eventually be viewed as the thing that put us on a path to be in the same place that Greece is today.

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