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School Taxes Could Rise in $90.5M Spending Proposal

Cuts to busing, outsourcing staff under consideration, officials say.

District officials have released a preliminary $90.5 million school budget, which calls for a $120 increase in taxes. 

Business Administrator Robert Finger stressed the increase was for "discussion purposes" and the tax impact rests, in part, on if the district receives $5.26 million in state aid. 

State officials told Teaneck the district could expect a $173,357 increase in state aid, but the number was not guaranteed, Finger said. Aid for special education students and non-public transportation was expected to decrease. 

"Even though we have more students and even though we have more expenditures, the amount of aid that we're going to get from the state is going to come down," Finger said. 

The preliminary budget proposal includes a $79.3 million tax levy, a $1.56 million increase from last year. The average Teaneck homeowner assessed at $465,300, could pay $120.58 more in school taxes. 

The school board has already prepared possible cost-saving measures if the district faces a drop in state funding, Finger said. Cutting some administrative jobs, reducing courtesy busing, and outsourcing substitute teachers and paraprofessionals were some options being considered. 

"The key through all of this is not impacting the education of the students directly," Finger said. 

The district could achieve up to $125,000 in savings by only busing students who live more than 1.3 miles from school, Finger said. Currently, students who live more than 0.9 miles away are eligible for busing. 

Finger said the district could also tier non-public school bus routes, but it would require schools to voluntarily change arrival and dismissal times. 

The largest expense is $48.9 million in salaries, and the budget includes a 1.5 percent pay increase for teachers. Teaneck's teaching staff work under a contract that expired in 2011 and have recently held protests over the talks. Efforts to reach a new deal in mediation have failed. 

Administrative expenses were anticipated to increase by $49,053, to $1.38 million, Finger said. About $40,000 was for increased Internet bandwidth. 

Finger said the district planned to install wireless Internet access across all township schools, undertake an asbestos abatement project at Hawthorne Elementary School and resurface parking lots at Benjamin Franklin Middle School and the Eugene Field Administration building. 

Educational initiatives, including new textbooks along with math and literacy programs, will cost $335,000, according to Finger's budget presentation. 

Finger said $1.4 million set aside last year for the Shalom Academy Charter School was able to be allocated for other areas. The Hebrew immersion school never opened and filed a lawsuit against the state after its charter was denied. 

Sebastian Rodriguez, a school board member, said the district continually faced cuts in state funding. 

"It just doesn't get any easier year after year. It's not just looking at numbers," he said. "You have to balance how do you keep taxes low while, at the same time, making cuts that have the least impact on the education of our students, while at the same time state aid continues to go down."

State aid figures will be released Feb. 28. The school's budget will be introduced March 4 and a public hearing is set for March 27. 

 

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shimon baum February 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Funny the high school students always seem to have enough money to buy lunch. Which they throw on the lawns of those of us who live by the school. I'm sure more money will get better results. It hasn't worked yet but just keep throwing money at it.
Summer54 February 20, 2013 at 04:13 PM
shimon... you seem to always have something negative to say about living near the high school and the students in general. Why dont you just pack up and move? PLEASE!!!
JamesTS February 20, 2013 at 04:15 PM
this has NOTHING to do with the students at all. dont drag them into it. I must admit it seems the BOE is making some hard decisions and even though nothing is final they are taking the right steps. Lets hope its not this bad in the final budget.
shimon baum February 20, 2013 at 05:09 PM
Summer do you live near the high school? If you don't then obviously you wouldn't get it. And sorry but I'm staying here. Actually my point was you spend money on students yet the same students don't learn common courtesy and respect concerning other people's property and not litter. If they can't even learn that, what exactly are they learning?
Abraham February 20, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Better idea: Support policies that promote families and parenting, that encourage mothers and fathers to stay together and raise their children. Bad behavior is epidemic among high school students - and it comes directly from a lack of fathers and a general lack of parenting.
Abraham February 20, 2013 at 05:18 PM
How is spending more money going to help anything? They can't make it on the current budget? Combined local and federal school revenues come to about $90 million already. Instead of rewarding the continued failure of the public schools to instruct the children, it might be better to start reducing their budgets, forcing them to focus on the essentials of education.
Abraham February 20, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Shimon, you ask too many questions and think too hard. Obviously, you didn't go to public schools. I did, though, and now I know that teachers are wonderful (but so horribly underappreciated), government institutions are our salvation, and conservatives are all stupid bigots.
Dee Are February 20, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Silly question -- as a teacher who has worked often with no pay raise year-to-year, couldn't teachers survive on only 1% and not 1.5%? How much would something like this save?
Pinner Blinn February 20, 2013 at 06:05 PM
To the topic at hand, I think changing the bus eligibility requirements could help a bit. I could guess that dissolving the Teaneck charter school entirely. The charter school is denying the rest of the student population $4.6M this year. How much additional money could be saved by revoking bus services for private school students (you wanna send your kid to a private school, good for you, don't expect me to pay for it when we are struggling to afford basic needs)
Summer54 February 20, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Abramham.. Do you really think that kids throwing trash in a yard has anything to do with a lack of fathers in the household? Have you ever been in Ridgewood when the highschool kids are let out? I suggest you stand there and observe what happens. Lived in Teaneck for 46 years and my parents raised me to always do the right thing and be respectful of others. There are so many wonderful and bright kids in that school and for you to generalize that most of them lack a father and good parenting is nonsense.
Dee Are February 20, 2013 at 06:59 PM
If you are not going to give me the tax money allocated for transportation because I go elsewhere, why should I pay the taxes to support your need to live over .9 miles from school? Move. Actually, why should I pay any taxes towards your educational decision if you want to withhold from me what I paid in to the system because of mine?
shimon baum February 20, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Yeah it's the fault of parents who send their children to private schools Pinner. Of course it has nothing to do with how the funds are managed. Clearly the people who don't use the public school system and actually pay for their children's education are the ones causing the problem.
Debbi S. February 20, 2013 at 09:13 PM
wow, what a hostile comment thread.........sorry you guys, but I can only see one point - TAXES ARE GOING UP !!!! They're already in the ridiculous range - when I tell anyone how much we pay, they look at me like I'm crazy.......move you say? Who would buy my house? Prices are down, yeah, but insane real estate taxes will preclude anyone wanting/ or being able to live here........can't blame young couples for looking elsewhere to live......
shimon baum February 20, 2013 at 09:47 PM
Yes everyone's standard response if you dare criticize anything is move. Instead of focusing on making the area more of a draw for people actually looking to move there or for people who all ready reside there.
NC February 20, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Even if kids are rigorously taught to be respectful of others, they are still KIDS. Hormone-driven, careless, free-spirited kids. All of us were at one point. If you think you didn't do something dumb like that when you were young, you either have selective memory or lost it all together. I think it comes with the territory when you live near a high school that some not so respectful things may go on or around your property. Yeah, it stinks and you have every right to complain, but I dont see how its completely on the parents. Why this even a topic of discussion is beyond me.
Pinner Blinn February 21, 2013 at 02:53 AM
I did not say that it is anyone's fault. I am simply saying that the school district is paying to bus children that don't go to its schools, and this costs money the district doesn't have. I bet you that we could save a sufficient amount of money by paying only for bussing children to private school who would normally qualify if they went to a district school. In fact, maybe we should eliminate bussing all together. Teaneck is not so large, and our schools are not so far away from any given part of town that parents would be heavily burdened by driving their children to school. As a town, we all pay for the education of our children whether we have children in the schools or not. I myself have lived here many years before I had a child in school. We have many citizens who pay for education that do not have children at all. Paying property tax, part of which goes to the school, is part of living in any town. We are all free to choose how we educate our children but we are all still responsible for paying into the system. Clearly the district does not have enough money, leading us to find ways to cut costs that do not interfere with education and services. The charter school wastes $4.6M, bussing charter school students wastes $280k, and transportation of non-public school students wastes $1.7M. For the record, these numbers are pulled from this years budget.
Dee Are February 21, 2013 at 03:33 AM
so I should pay IN to it even though my kids don't use the system but the money (whihc I paid into) allocated for busing shouldn't be available to me because I send my kids elsewhere. Gee, that makes sense. Would you like me to come over and paint your house as well? Why don't you remove all busing then? If there were no courtesy busing we could save lots more. Why should people who live a mile away from a public school have access to money which I don't have access to simply because they chose to send to public school?
Teaneck Citizen February 21, 2013 at 04:00 AM
It is clearly obvious that to reduce taxes, you gotta go after the big line items. This is clearly salaries and benefits. A very quick and obvious fix is to bring admin, teachers, and support staff compensation towards the median in the State and not one of the highest. Especially when student performance and results and near the bottom half.
Tee Smyth February 21, 2013 at 03:26 PM
I agree. On the whole, I was a pretty good and respectful Teaneck High School student. However, I'm positive that some of my away-from-home "behavior" would have raised an eyebrow or two from my parents.
zizi February 23, 2013 at 11:08 AM
What would cost the school district more... more kids that use the schools or the cost of busing to the private schools......? A simple question...... It is a blessing that some kids go to private schools.... saving the tax payers a lot of money....... At least the tax payers can support the effort and the sacrifice these parents are making by supporting the busing...... But sense in this community of ours is a hard commodity to find..... Some here think they have no money for busing yet they have enough money to promise raises to all teachers and administrators regardless of their horrible collective performance...... Teaneck school system's per pupil costs are one of the highest in the region coupled with the lowest test scores...... really a shameful fact that very few here mention....... The teachers and administrators should get a pay cut every year until the scores improve..... that should save more than any other item in the budget......
zizi February 23, 2013 at 11:14 AM
The Teaneck school system in particular fail to teach civics.... I asked a teacher (name withheld) who told me that they are there to go through the syllabus and course catalog and it is the responsibility of the parents to do the rest....... I was so shocked to hear that......
zizi February 23, 2013 at 11:20 AM
Abraham: I bet that some teachers are wonderful but collectively they fail to educate the students properly.... the results show that Teaneck students are scoring very low in standardized tests...... They are failing to learn how to be civil and and be good citizens..... Teachers make pretty good money in Teaneck and they get raises every year regardless of how their students do... how much more you want for these teachers? most people in Teaneck have not seen raises in years due to the economic conditions.... I was told long ago by a great English teacher to avoid generalizing a group in absolute terms.... It is more likely that you will be wrong than right when you do that..... try to learn at least that......
zizi February 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM
Dee: May I ask which school system you served?
Concerned42 February 23, 2013 at 08:52 PM
It's funny how the Operations and Maintenance workers took a 3 year pay freeze; relinquished a great many of their perks (ie paid uniforms, etc); are paying twice as much for their healthcare than the state mandated - all in an effort to keep their jobs - in essence they took a pay cut. However, their supervisors got a raise - administrators got a raise and now they're trying to do the same to the teachers as they did to custodians and maintenance workers. Seems to me that the people who actually do the real work are usually the ones to suffer the most. Ask the administrators what their "cap" is on unused sick and vacation time.
Dee Are February 24, 2013 at 03:35 AM
private school (actually a couple, and in each, for a time, we had no increase year to year (and our scale is lower than the public schools in our district)
zizi February 24, 2013 at 09:05 AM
Dee: That is what I suspected....
zizi February 24, 2013 at 09:08 AM
Concerned42: You said the truth...... the ones who make the decisions usually benefits themselves...... charity starts from one's own home....

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