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South Brunswick Schools Brace for Impact of Sequestration

District officials estimate approximately $160,000 in federal aid could be lost if spending cuts go into effect March 1.

The South Brunswick School District could be facing a significant cut in federal aid should $85 billion in "sequestration" spending cuts go into place on March 1.

New Jersey could lose nearly $30 million for education, with approximately $11.7 million in cuts to primary and secondary education, and about $17 million in cuts to special education programs, the White House said Sunday.

"My guess is that we have to be prepared for about $160,000 in cuts," said South Brunswick Superintendent Gary McCartney on Monday. "Our rule of thumb is that it will probably be about $80,000 (cut) for every $1 million of federal funds, and we're sitting at around $2 million (in federal funds)."

The total federal spending cuts would come in at about $1.2 trillion over the next nine years, according to the White House. With the debate expected to rage on Capital Hill through Friday, the possibility of decreased federal aid had been looming over districts throughout the state as they formulated spending plans for next year.

"We'd been watching this and the way it usually works is that they postpone it or find some way to kick the can down the road, so it will be interesting to see if it happens," Dr. McCartney said. "If it does, we have a commitment to kids with Title 1 and other support services that we'll have to figure out a way to fit into next year's budget."

Last year, the district adopted a $138 million spending plan that increased by 1.15 percent over 2011-12, but lowered the general fund tax levy by about $630,000 to $96.2 million. 

The potential loss of additional federal funding comes at a time when South Brunswick is still reeling from the impact of declining tax ratables.

Since 2007, the township has lost $600 million in ratables from successful tax appeals, while the ratio of assessed property value to market value dropped from about 80 percent to 47 percent in South Brunswick over the last decade.

If the federal spending cuts are put in place, one of the hardest hit areas could be programs that serve students with disabilities.

Dr. McCartney said that a significant amount of funding from federal aid to South Brunswick pays for out of district tuition costs for students with special needs, which could put an expense of about $100,000 back into the district's general fund budget.

"Every time you create a new expense in the general fund budget you say okay, taxes are limited in what you can raise, so what do you cut," he said.

With Gov. Chris Christie set to deliver his budget address today (Feb. 26), the district expects to find out by the end of the week what kind of state and federal aid will be coming to South Brunswick as work continues on next year's school budget.

"Obviously this week is a crucial week, as we find out Thursday what our state aid is," Dr. McCartney said. "We should find out on Friday whether we're getting whacked on the federal end. That will be the missing piece for the budget that we don't have yet, and then we'll be able to continue through the completion of the budget."

Eyeballs February 26, 2013 at 01:09 PM
The federal government should have no roll in education. Let them keep all their money - every dime - along with the liberal, politically correct garbage they're forcing down our kids's throats.
Tugwalla February 26, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Gee 1% reduction and the whole SB school district falls apart?
Lisa Rodgers February 26, 2013 at 02:58 PM
... think about the impact standardized testing will have on top of this if PARCC goes through.. Testing could well exceed $2.0 Million alone each year, and that DOESN"T include the technology which the STATE requires. Districts will have no choice if we just let it ride and not take a stand!
Lisa Rodgers February 26, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Tugwalla.. well.. what would you cut?
7 out February 26, 2013 at 03:22 PM
160K is a large amount of cash. Especially when you consider that mandates need to be funded, the new CCCS means that the district will need to upgrade the wireless in the schools to pay for the new computerized tests that need to be used in two years, and the costs of training and implementing the new teacher evaluation model. Where does this cash come from if it doesn't come back? Do you fire a couple of teachers? Do you increase the costs of student activities? Do you shut the heat off during the winter or shut off the AC in the summer?
Lisa Rodgers February 26, 2013 at 03:37 PM
7 out.. exactly... how much more cutting can we take.. or can the kids take. The number of kids/class is constantly rising, and when do we realize it.. when it's too late. The cost of technology will be over $2million IN ADDITION to the $2M each year we have to spend on JUST THE TEST.. not counting any admin costs.... This of course will be over the 2% tax levy, then we vote.. and what if it doesn't pass? Where does the $2-$4 Million come from? The federal government - Arne Duncan and the State DoE Commissioner- Chris Cerf need to get it together.. the districts just cannot handle this anymore....
Tugwalla February 26, 2013 at 03:55 PM
The cutting is easy I can secure $500K in salaries alone in just a few minutes! Just look at all of this potential bloat and waste! • 11 Assistant Principals – Cut 1 or 2 positions =Savings • 11 Psychologist – Eleven? Why are we subsidizing private insurance? If kids have problems let their parents pay for these mental health services. • Secretaries in the PRIVATE sector are a thing of the past. This proves that there are too many inefficiencies and potential abuse. Why do we have soooooo many! (1 Assistant Board Secretary, 27 School secretary, 12 Secretary to the Principal, 14 Administrative Secretaries & 6 Nurse Secretary) A grand total of 60 secretaries! Reduce by 5-10% =Even More Savings! • 27 Instructional support and 191 Paraprofessionals = Reduce by 5-10% = Even More Savings!s So while the School Board screams the sky is falling…I just reduced the budget by over $500K….Just sayin!
Lisa Rodgers February 26, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Tugwalla.. you have very valid points, however, which school gets the assistant principals' cut. Right now 1 Vice principal is shared by 2 elementary schools. Psychologists -- well you raise a valid point here too - what parents have private insurance? Those that work for major corporations -- tell that to the small business owner or the parents that work in retail. Secretaries -- Let me ask you - have you visited a school lately? I do - pretty much 3 times a week. Let's see, the secretaries get to deal with security, sick kids, absenteeism, forgotten lunches, forgotten projects, just to start the day from 9AM... what schools do you see all these secretaries? Paraprofessionals have been reduced year over year. Seriously, this is just a question.... when was the last time you went to a board meeting to ask these questions? When was the last time you were in any of the schools for 1 day to witness what happens. Finally, just to snuff out the age old question -- no I am not a teacher, I am not employed by the district - I'm a mom who wants to see efficiencies of course, but if you feel there is abuse, then by all means, bring it through the proper channels, not just here. It's important to get the questions to the right folks.
Lisa Rodgers February 26, 2013 at 04:13 PM
and remember.... $160K is just the beginning... you have to keep in mind what is coming down the pike from the state and federal levels...
Tugwalla February 26, 2013 at 05:09 PM
LMR...my recommendations are obvious. You cannot keep making excuses why we cannot cut. The whole system.. the school board only knows to increase the budget, the unions cry for more money and benefits and parents want some paraprofessional to hold their kids hand in each class... Regardless of what the NJEA tells you cutting $1 or $2 MILLION out of the budget WILL NOT EFFECT GRADUATION RATES OR COLLEGE ADMISSIONS.
Lisa Rodgers February 26, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Tugwalla -- I'm not making excuses.. what I am saying is that you need to show up and see what is involved. I do not listen to the NJEA.. they have nothing to do with this conversation. And if you think that graduation rates will not be affected as more and more cuts come down the pike, you are fooling yourself. The more kids in the class, the less time the teacher can spend one on one. I know this for a FACT, as it has already impacted my child. Finally, your points are valid questions that need to be addressed.... I believe you will have the opportunity as I found out last night after attending the BoE meeting (didn't see you there), it will be on the agenda in March.
Tugwalla February 26, 2013 at 07:39 PM
It is a PROVEN fact that parental involvement has more to do with grades and graduation rates the number if kids in a class. This whole alchemy of class size is propagated by unions and academics using biased research and their own special interests. My experience has been that teachers have scheduled open blocks for one on one time. A few administrative layoffs will not effect that. If you want more one on one time send your kid to a private school or hire a tutor.
Lisa Rodgers February 26, 2013 at 08:13 PM
and there it is.. "send your child to a private school" wow, that is the answer.. You need to get involved tugwalla and stop complaining when you don't have all the facts. Show me the PROVEN fact please.. where do you obtain this information. Where do you obtain the "...propagated by unions, etc," as usual you speak with out facts. Yes there is one on one time, but let's do the math ...25 kids in a class - each kid gets 10 minutes of one on one time -- that would be 4 hours per day, add 1 hour for lunch/recess... wow.. one whole hour of teaching a class.. yup that would work!
Lisa Rodgers February 26, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Finally, I will not be responding anymore as I think I've made my point, and you did as well. At this point, we can agree we disagree..good luck - hope to see you at the meetings..
Tugwalla February 26, 2013 at 08:51 PM
LMR....simple facts NEWARK, TRENTON and CAMDEN! More money, more teachers, more special ed, more of everything and nothing to show for it!
7 out February 26, 2013 at 10:17 PM
If you cut psych and paras you might get sued for violating special ed laws
Allison Dramis February 26, 2013 at 10:40 PM
I mean no disrespect but why do we need a School Superintendent? Does every district need a Superintendent or is this a resource that could be shared by more than one district or county? If it was one per county wouldn't that save the district $175,000.00 to be used where it is needed?
7 out February 26, 2013 at 11:22 PM
I agree
Tugwalla February 27, 2013 at 04:20 AM
Mom...the SB Superintendent makes over $200K
Concerned Citizen February 27, 2013 at 12:54 PM
roll? as in rock and roll?
Drediock May 03, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Thing is. Its not "their " (the federal governments) money to begin with. Going through the federal government only creates more middlemen to whom our tax money gets distributed. Which means considering this state contributes among the most to the federal pot even the federal money we get. We get far less of that money to use within the state then if we had just kept that money in state to begin with. That being said. Be it money from either the federal or local levels. Townships and school systems have to learn to live within the economic realities of the times. Used to be you got a public sector job the money wasnt great. but you had benefits and job security. They changed that to make salaries to be more competitive with the private sector so as to attract better people (its debatable if they accomplished this or not) Problem with that is.When you do that. you also have to make yourself subject to the economy at hand as you are now more susceptible to it due to fluctuation in tax revenue and public sector jobs are not as insulated against those fluctuations as they once were. To Govt workers I say Welcome to the real world
Scudagc May 03, 2013 at 01:52 PM
Tugwalla, Do you know what a school psychologist does? Your comment clearly indicates the worst type of ignorance. This is the ignorance not to discover or learn new information because of a fear that it might change your view. While the right screams that its mental health, not guns that are responsible for mass shootings, you propose cutting 11 mental health practitioners from schools. By cutting many of the positions you are proposing to cut, you are single handedlly increasing the number of special needs students that will require out of district placements. Psychologists, assistant principals and para professionals help maintain those with disabilities in district through thoughtful and meaningful intervention. School psychologists do not do therapy, they help identify and plan for students with special needs. Private insurance will not pay for that and it is a federally mandated role!
Scudagc May 03, 2013 at 01:55 PM
You are correct. School Psych's are federally mandated roles. Paraprofessionals, in some situations are mandated as well. They also serve a population that is extremely vulnerable and without these professionals, we would see a mass migration of students being sent to out of district schools for anywhere from 40k-120k a year. Building capacity within districts in the longterm will reduce costs.
Drediock May 04, 2013 at 12:12 PM
Could save some money by removing the police presence form schools. Really not needed even for fear of school shootings inasmuch as the chances of any particular K-12 school in the United States experiencing a shooting incident in any given year is approximately 1 in 53,925. I cant really think of a legitimate purpose for having them there.

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