POLL: How Would You Vote on the South Brunswick School Budget?

If the school budget were presented to voters, would you support it?

The South Brunswick Board of Education will hold a public hearing on the school budget tonight (March 26). Unlike previous years, residents will not get to vote on the school budget next month. . Officials estimated the move could save the district $36,000 on the cost of running the April election.

the board discussed adopting a spending plan that would increase the school tax rate by about 1.7 percent, but maintain staffing at current levels.

The proposed 4.9-cent increase would result in a 2012 tax rate of about $2.85 per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of a township home with an assessed value of $190,000 would see their school taxes go up by about $100 if the board approves the spending plan.

During the meeting, preliminary discussions began for the public with two options presented for next year's school budget: A tax-rate increase without any staff cuts, or keeping the tax rate at its current level, which would require cutting over 30 staff members.

The other option the board is considering would be to hold the tax rate firm at about $2.80 per $100 of assessed valuation by cutting $2.7 million, or about one-half of the money lost due to the ratable decrease.

This option would require eliminating 38.5 full time equivalent positions. The district has cut 212.7 full time equivalent employees since 2005-06. Teacher-student ratios for grades K-1 have increased to 1:23, for grades 2-5 increased to 1:25 and for grades 6-12 increased to 1:28.

Last year, voters approved a $95 million general fund levy that carried a 12.2-cent tax rate increase. A township home with an assessed value of $200,000 saw an increase of about $244 in school taxes and a home assessed at $300,000 saw an increase of about $366. The budget maintained the tax levy at the same level for the third consecutive year in South Brunswick.

Over the last six years, the school tax levy has increased by about $300,000.

The public hearing will be held tonight at 7:30 p.m. at , 635 Georges Road, Monmouth Junction.

What are your thoughts on the proposed 4.9-cent increase? If this option were presented to voters on the ballot as in previous years, would you give the budget the thumbs up or the thumbs down? Vote in the poll and tell us why you voted that way in the comments.


Winston March 27, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Hmmm a bad imitation!
I am RIGHT March 27, 2012 at 02:36 AM
The school district is following the rules set forth by Chris Christie. The teachers now contribute 30% of their healthcare costs as per CC. The 2012/2013 budget is less than 2011/2012 budget. CC said if you follow the rules there is no need to vote. Again, this is as per CC. I'd prefer to have the vote and let the tax payers have their say.
Marty Abschutz March 27, 2012 at 03:27 AM
My six takeaways from tonight's Public Hearing: 1. All of the programs will continue that have given South Brunswick School District its excellent reputation. 2. If my house was assessed at $205, 000 last year and I won a tax appeal to reduce it to $200,000, my taxes would go down $40. That decrease is about the average decrease in ratables (2.3%). 3. If I could move my house somewhere else in Middlesex County, 21 of the 24 municipalities would have me pay more taxes. 4. The State has calculated that our budget is $7 million LESS THAN they believe a well-run school district's should be. That is worth between $0.09 and $0.10 on the tax rate. Another way of saying it is that the State believes our tax rate is between nine and ten cents lower than they think it could be and still be considered a financially well-run district. 5. The total amount the District will be requesting from the community is $600,000 less than for the current year. 6. The Board could have raised the total amount they requested from the community by more than $2 million and would have been within the 2% tax cap. Instead, they looked at what was really needed and decreased that total amount by more than $600,000.
Marty Abschutz March 27, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Jack, With respect, South Brunswick is a much better school district than Woodbridge. Cafeteria services have been outsourced in SB for a very long time. In fact, it is a money maker by contract guarantee. The money it makes goes back into keeping the cafeteria equipment up to date. What additional responsibilities would you want the Board to negotiate with the teachers? On another tack, I want teachers to focus on teaching.
Winston March 27, 2012 at 10:18 AM
Why do the union, tax and spend supporters use other mismanaged districts is to cover and support the bloat and mismanagement of SB? Vote no to higher taxes!
Marty Abschutz March 27, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Winston, I can see you are setting up an Emily Litella {sp?} (from the old SNL) moment. Almost clever.
Winston March 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Marty....who would have thought you of all people would jump so quickly defend the mismanagement, bloat and union control of the SB Brunswick School District? Anyone who references 1970's TV characters proves how out of touch they are with the current state of educational affairs that are requiring us to abandon the old "union over children and taxpayers" methods for new and more cost effective educational strategies.
Marty Abschutz March 27, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Steve, (I mean Winston), I'll say it for you, "Never mind."
raymond Weis March 27, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I'm not saying mismanagement I'm saying that somehow they have to give a break to the tax-payers in town who have to figure how to keep a roof over their heads while paying for the schools. We're all in this together and I realize Darwins theory but in todays world if we can't figure a way for us all to survive maybe none of us deserve to. I know we say it's only 40 dollars here anf 70 dollars there but it adds up. I remember the congressman who said a million here and a million there and before you know it we're talking about real money.
Jack Wagon March 28, 2012 at 02:23 AM
It's peculiar to me that you feel that SB is a better district than Woodbridge is, Marty. In what regards do you feel this way? I'll argue that Woodbridge is ranked substantially higher than SB is academically. Woodbridge 140th vs. SB 173rd. They are also ranked higher with a much larger pop. 13k vs. 9k students. I can't think of a better way to judge a district than their academic achievements on standardized testing, can you? I'm aware of our outsourced cafeteria, I was just stating what services Woodbridge outsources. As far as teachers - my original comment states: Let the department heads and experienced teachers decide which courses, textbooks, programs, labs, lessons etc. to implement as per the NJCCCS guidelines. Take this task out of the Assist. supers. hands and negotiate with the union to have the teachers work with dept. heads/supervisors to take on this task. My point is to either share services for an assistant. super. or cut the position & give the task to dept. supervisors & teachers.
Marty Abschutz March 28, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Jack, I don't know where your rankings come from. I believe if you asked 100 people who know education and were not affiliated with Wood bridge or South Brunswick, which district was better, a substantial majority would say South Brunswick. The defining characteristic of any K-12 district is how its HS stands compared to other high schools. SBHS was ranked much higher in the most recent Newsweek (national) and NJ Monthly magazine rankings than Woodbridge. I don't think that giving the supervisory responsibility for the entire curriculum to supervisors (you call the Dept heads - Dept heads are teachers with a slight amount of admin responsibility -- supervisors are responsible for formally observing teachers -- they have been trained for that and have supervisory certificates) and experienced teachers will work, especially with the national curriculum standards about to be introduced. You may not know that all of the technology areas, including the infrastructure and technology use in classrooms also report to the Ass't Superintendent for curriculum and instruction. I guess we'll agree to disagree on that one, unless we are talking about consolidating with a smaller district.
Jack Wagon March 28, 2012 at 11:45 AM
My rankings come from : http://www.schooldigger.com/go/NJ/districtrank.aspx. SB may be more affluent, but unless Woodbridge is cheating, they clearly have better test scores with 3 HS's 5 MS's, & 16 Elem. But I do like your scientific polling. :-) Marty. I bet if I asked 100 people who weren't fans of either the Patriots or Giants their opinion of which team would win the last SB, more would say Patriots too, but that's why they play the games. BTW - I do mean the supervisors, who often supervise more than one subject area, along with dept. heads and experienced teachers. I do think there is room there for improvement with some coordinated efforts too. It's just a though, not a traditional approach, but a fresh tactic is what I'm looking for from my school board. That's what I voted for with DelPiano and Boyle.
Winston March 28, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Jack...dont waste your time and energy trying to have a facts based financial or educational performance debate with Marty. Based on his posts and the financial advice he admits providing to the BOE...all his answers, in my opinion, are based on misinformation and political idealogy with one goal....protect the status quo, protect union control over childrens education and at all costs protect the Democrat party. He seems like a smart guy...he should open up his mind and be more liberal in his thinking!
Marty Abschutz March 28, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Jack, We'll agree to disagree on which is a better school district. The website itself says that scores shouldn't be used as an absolute measure of which district is better. The magazines that I mentioned above use additional criteria beyond test scores to develop their rankings. Secondly, the website includes Middlesex County Vocational in Woodbridge's numbers. It is not part of the District. It is a small (153 student) school that is part of the county Vo-Tech system. I don't know what other inconsistencies exist. With that said, I believe that every school district can improve.
Jack Wagon March 28, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Marty, Nobody has all the answers. I'm now just looking to vote for the people running for the school board in November that I feel can give me their best efforts by critically thinking of ways to trim spending while using innovative methods when possible. As a voter, that's all they've left for me to do.
Jack Wagon March 28, 2012 at 08:52 PM
I actually enjoy bantering with Marty, Winston. I don't think we'll ever see eye to eye on most issues, but he brings experience and patience without coming across as a crass know it all. He's definitely does not bring the intellectual wit that you do (wink, wink), but he is not a dolt. Two things he's got going against him are he's a liberal democrat and a Jet's fan. GO BIG BLUE!
Let's Think March 29, 2012 at 12:34 AM
I posted a little while back about our teachers doing an exceptional job educating the children of our township, and quoted a statistic that they were among the lowest paid teachers in our county. With the approval of our budget, I hope we will support teachers as they grapple with a 30% reduction in their pay check during these economic times. I'm not saying we should pay them above every other township, but in the whole "pay for performance"... I hope we pay them well for performing well. I also think we would save a lot of money if the state would stop making a new mandate all of the time. These mandates cost money and takes teachers away from teaching children science, technology, history and language.
Winston March 29, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Oh...my....goooooood! Let's Think...is this a parody post or just a surreal one?
Let's Think March 29, 2012 at 01:25 AM
In my firm, we reward excellence. I'm not political. I don't play one online either. I'm just saying that we have people in Trenton who say that teachers who perform should be paid well. My twins are having a tremendous experience at the SBHS, that began in kindergarten. I don't feel that they learn in spite of our teachers, but because of our teachers. I wouldn't expect someone who is not in the marketing field to understand how to create an ad campaign, and I really don't understand how teachers are able to motivate and inspire our kids as they do. I also believe that the value added by every department working together creates this great product called our children. Is it perfect? no. When my employees create their campaigns, and it's a great success, we still analyze how to do it better the next time around. We also give them a healthy pay check, because they earned it. My point is that we should be doing the same for our teachers. If we don't support them, our best teachers really do have other options. We can't have it both ways. We need to have priorities. If we want excellent, we need to keep excellent. Part of keeping them is allow them to afford to be a teacher and raise a family. Let's remember 30% reduction in salary, and teachers spend about $40 a week on the classroom. I went to staples tonight for office supplies and so did my child's teacher. The difference is that I will be handing in my receipt.
Lisa Rodgers March 29, 2012 at 01:31 AM
@Let's Think - your correct. There are those people that want the best teachers for our kids, but feel they do not warrant a decent salary, but are willing to pay for a charter school where the "headmaster" of a school with 170 will make $120,000. Of course this totally makes sense to Trenton
7 out March 25, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Actually ever teacher in SB is bringing home less money and will continue to so so for the next four years minimum. We work more classes and with more students than we did three yeas ago.
7 out March 25, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Woodbridge schools suck, I live there. The budget cuts from the state and a steady voting down of the budget is turning the town into a ghetto more every day. This is leading to a decrease in home value and places like SB are more attractive communities. You schools have a direct effect on your home resale value.
7 out March 25, 2013 at 07:50 PM
As a SB teacher, thanks we all feel constantly attacked by the public, nice to see some realize that the vast majority of teachers here are good.
Tugwalla March 25, 2013 at 08:31 PM
This whole budget meme is nothing but theatrics and crocodile tears! There are over 80 secretaries and even more NON teaching positions..some in here, like the tax and spend apologists, will blame mandates, Christie and Bush. But in reality its the NJEA and the delusional idea that spending more money on an unsustainable system will improve performance.
Jerry Avins March 25, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Education is one of the last places that viable societies look to save resources. Better to let the streets go to potholes than to gut the schools. I don't like the idea of my taxes rising faster than my Social Security check, but I'll keep eating regardless. Our teaching staff isn't perfect: nothing is. It's better than most and deserves higher pay than we can provide. God bless them! Of course I'd vote to approve. Jerry
Tugwalla March 25, 2013 at 09:26 PM
Jerry increasing spending doesn't improve outcomes...so why would you vote to waste money?
Jerry Avins March 25, 2013 at 09:38 PM
There's no increase in overall spending. Cutting in this instance will certainly worsen either the overall outcome or the personal situations of staff. Gas goes up. Electricity goes up. Why do you think that good education can cost less? Jerry
Tugwalla March 25, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Thats my point...the current system in not sustainable. There needs to BIGGER systemic restructuring and new ways of thinking. There are some on this thread who are part of the school board and administration "back room" insiders that have to much personal interests(ego or financial) at stake.
Jerry Avins March 29, 2013 at 07:39 PM
I didn't write all of this. The first paragraph has been altered and the second added in its entirety. Nothing is here that I would take issue with, but it's not mine. Jerry
Jerry Avins March 29, 2013 at 07:48 PM
All right, so suggest a workable alternative. Until you are prepared to provide a path to a better boat, don't drill holes in the hull of the one we have. Jerry


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