Shalom Academy Money Could Go To Teaneck Classrooms

School officials seek meeting with state education chief.

School media center upgrades, new social studies textbooks and curriculum initiatives are some of the district projects that could benefit from the $1.4 million once allocated to cover tuition for students enrolled at the proposed Shalom Academy Charter School

Still, Teaneck Board of Education President Ardie Walser cautioned the funds should not be viewed as extra money, as the district already made cuts to meet Shalom Academy’s requirements.

“These are just a few ways in which we can use these funds,” Walser said of the possible initiatives. “Please note that the $1.4 million are not additional funds but rather funds that were pulled from programs that were part of the original 2012 - 2013 Teaneck school budget.”

to open in the fall. Teaneck and Englewood were required to allocate tuition money for local students enrolled at the K-5 Hebrew immersion school.

Budgeting around Shalom was complicated when the district was told late in the process it needed to allocate funds for the charter school, Walser said. In February, after a school budget had been ratified, the district learned of the $1.4 million price tag it faced for Shalom Academy.

“The district then had to work this major deficit to the school budget into the funding equation,” Walser said in an email. “This reduction in funds has impacted negatively a number of the programs that were planned for the 2012 - 2013 academic year.”

Walser called the vetting for charter schools “very problematic” and said the district had offered input on Shalom Academy’s applications.

“The Teaneck school district had reviewed at least two proposals put forth by the founders of the Shalom Academy, at significant cost to the district in time and human capital,” Walser said. “Each time the district was overruled by the [Department of Education] in spite of the fact that the district had found the curriculum to be lacking in rigor and innovation.”

District officials are seeking to arrange a meeting with Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, Walser said. No meeting date has been scheduled.

“The concept of charter schools was a grand idea that has been terribly misused,” he said. “It is my hope that we find a better way to work this mode of education into our educational system without destroying those things that currently work for a large number of our children and families.”

In all, to open this fall and granted 13 others a year to prepare. Ten schools, including Shalom Academy, were rejected.

The Department of Education noted a new performance measure it will use to evaluate charter schools.

“Charter schools are granted autonomy in exchange for accountability, and we at the state level will continue to hold all charter schools accountable for results to ensure that they offer all students a high-quality education and an equality of opportunity,” Cerf said in a statement.

Shalom Academy’s founder has not responded to requests for comment. The school can re-apply for a charter by April 2013 or fight the state’s denial in court. A school representative were filled and some grades had waiting lists. 


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LaVerne July 20, 2012 at 03:18 AM
ZIzi - I'm so sick of you and your little friends fussing about eveything. Especially the schools. Do you really know anything about the students, their success rate, their contributions to society? Do you know the school system first hand? Do you volunteer your time in the schools to help? It's clear that whatever school you went to you missed the BASIC. Let me just help you to understand.... -Money was taken away from public school programs, so money should be returned to the public schools. -for a COMMUNITY TO SURVIVE, the SCHOOLS MUST SURVIVE! -for our COUNTRY to SUCCEED, ALL OF OUR CHILDREN MUST SUCCEED ! - for ALL of OUR CHILDREN TO COMPETE they need to be EDUCATED! - for ALL of OUR CHILDREN TO HEALTHY, WEALTHY & WISE, THEY NEED TO BE EDUCATED!
LaVerne July 20, 2012 at 03:30 AM
We need to thank Dr Walser for dealing with Trenton period! It can't be easy.
Josh Hosseinof July 20, 2012 at 11:13 AM
People ask about what the Board of Ed is spending their money on. To get an Idea of teacher salaries I suggest you check out the Asbury Park Press Data Universe, which shows salaries for 2011 for all Public school teachers statewide. Here are a few useful ones for Teaneck: 4 Teachers on "In-School Suspension" status - totaling $425,000: http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?county=BERGEN&district=TEANECK&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=In-School+Suspension&Submit=Submit 6 Phys Ed teachers - of whom 4 earn $104,000 or more: http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?county=BERGEN&district=TEANECK&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=Physical+Education&Submit=Submit All teacher salaries in Teaneck: http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?county=BERGEN&district=TEANECK&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=%25&Submit=Submit Note - these are the Base salaries for what is essentially a 10-month a year job. Add on the generous health plan and pension plan benefits and that will give a significantly higher dollar amount per employee. Teaneck seems to have an extremely large number of teachers with Masters degrees. Is that because the positions require them to have a Masters degree in order to teach, or is that because of the automatic salary increases they get as a teacher with a Master's degree employed by Teaneck? Do the students at Lowell and Bryant school really need Phys Ed. teachers with Masters degrees?
zizi July 20, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Be careful JustSayin: The vultures will come after you if you make any sense.
zizi July 20, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Josh: thanks... I was trying to do some research and collect FACTS (not feelings) but you saved me some time. Trust me the vultures will not read or understand what we are trying to say. They just think spending is the way out of the mess the Teaneck school system is in.
Barbara Ley Toffler July 20, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Not sure what reserves you're referring to. I believe Gov. Christie took away the District's reserves in 2010 when he also took away $4 million in state aid (followed by the $6.1 million dollar cut by Council majority). Please document if these facts are wrong.
Kelly July 20, 2012 at 02:22 PM
The 4 teachers that are "In school suspension", I think that's a job title. they are in guidance area.
John Santaella July 20, 2012 at 02:55 PM
So, someone wants FACTS. Is that an acronym for anything? Fact: Charter schools have not been shown to be any better than public schools yet they operate with public funds with no accountability to the funding taxpayer. Now we want excellence NOT be pursued ie; a Masters degree for a phys ed teacher. We want to pay teachers less and to have less benefits. Wonderful.
zizi July 20, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Josh: can you do some more reasearch and compare the salaries of Teaneck teachers with our neighboring towns? Also... the test scores..... I just want to point out that there is no connection between teacher salaries and test scores... Teaneck spends a lot more than its peers and gets a lot less payback........ It is time to bring that balance back to Teaneck... spend less on salries/benefits and more on OUR kids and get results that matters.... every kid is ours and it is up to us to see that each one gets a fair shot at Amercian dream and all that is done keeping the interests of tax payers in mind.
BPinsak July 20, 2012 at 04:59 PM
To provide further information/clarity about an earlier website posting, the individuals listed as in school suspension are teacher-deans at Teaneck High School I can't say why they are listed as in school suspension on the Asbury Park website.
JustSayin July 20, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Also, for the sake of accuracy, if you look at the Minutes of the Board's meeting on August 24, 2011, you will see that there were 7 gym teachers making more than $104,000 a year. At a certain point, you have to decide what is more important - highly paid gym teachers or high quality textbooks. BTW, 7 represents a decline from a high of 11 or 12 a couple of years ago. I assume this reflects retirements, so now the taxpayers continue to pay for these teachers in the form of higher pension payments. Dr. Toffler - there was a partial spend down of the reserves a couple of years ago as a result of legislation in Trenton. However, in the current budget (see the 2012-2013 User Friendly Budget) capital reserves were dropped from 1M and 500,000 and Legal reserves were dropped from 1.9M to zero(!) Unless Teaneck's aging buildings are getting cheaper to maintain or Teaneck believes that no one will sue it in the future, it is hard to establish a rationale for these drops. Any savings from the Charter school should go to replenishing these reserves. Finally, the fact that after $10M in cuts (ok, 4M in cuts and 6M in rejected increase) Teaneck continues to be in the top 2-3% of spending and cannot find a way to pay for quality textbooks just begs the question - what are they spending it on.
John Santaella July 20, 2012 at 06:44 PM
There is some misinformation here. Retired teachers are no longer on the payroll. Their pensions come out of their pension fund which was funded partially by the school system while they were employed by the system. There is no longer a contribution made by the Teaneck school system for these retirees.
JustSayin July 20, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Did not say Teaneck taxpayers, just taxpayers. But you are right, I was not clear. Given the underfunded status of the pension fund, all the taxpayers of the State get the pleasure of funding these costs.
zizi July 20, 2012 at 08:07 PM
It is time for Teaneck to discontinue pensions for its employees. Why can't they save for their own retirements like all other residents.....
Barbara Ostroth July 21, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Kelly is correct, they are staff positions needed for supervision at the secondary level. As far as the large numnber of staff with masters degrees, Teaneck enjoys a terrific retention rate of highly skilled teaching staff that not only are motivated to improve themselves but in addition the STATE REQUIRES that every public school teacher complete a certain number of training hours every year. My four children were educated in the public schools from 1987 to 2006, and benefitted enormously from the quality of instruction, educational opportunities, and the wonderful investment our taxpayers approved for upgrading the school buildings in the 1990's. Ms. Pinsak is right, the roofs of several of our buildings have been repaired over and over and need replacement badly, these projects have been put off long enough. Anyone who owns a home knows that when things like this come due, you've got to budget the money for physical repairs to maintain the value of your property.
Barbara Ostroth July 21, 2012 at 03:55 AM
The phys ed teachers who earn high salaries have been employed by the district for over 20 years, they teach health classes as well. Their salaries are in line with their level of education and years of experience, no matter how you think we should shortchange our young children. They do a terrific job, if you complainers tried to do it, you would be exhausted within an hour...
Barbara Ostroth July 21, 2012 at 03:57 AM
The Teaneck schools follow state requirements for student-teacher ratios that determine the number of physical education teachers needed. It's part of core curriculum standards.
Barbara Ostroth July 21, 2012 at 03:57 AM
It's against the law, Zizi.
Josh Hosseinof July 21, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Here are some useful comparisons - Tenafly's Phys Ed. Teachers: http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?county=BERGEN&district=TENAFLY&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=Physical+Education&Submit=Submit Tenafly has 12 Phys Ed. teachers - not a single one earns 100,000 or more. In fact, only 4 of the 12 earn more than $90,000. Bergenfield - 8 Phys ed teachers - Only 2 of them are above $80,000, the rest earn less. http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?county=BERGEN&district=BERGENFIELD&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=Physical+Education&Submit=Submit Hackensack - 5 phys ed teachers - only 1 earns more than $100,00 http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?county=BERGEN&district=HACKENSACK&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=Physical+Education&Submit=Submit Want to do your own comparisons? Go here to the Asbury Park Data Universe for public school teachers: http://hp.app.com/edstaff/search.php For any State/municipal employee: http://www.app.com/section/DATA
Josh Hosseinof July 21, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I used Phys Ed. as an example here, not to question the amount of effort that a phys ed teacher puts into teaching, but only as an example that should make apples to apples comparisons easy. People say that if you spend less on the teachers you are shortchanging the students. Perhaps yes, perhaps not. But look at the amounts the neighboring towns are spending on Phys ed and look at the amounts that Teaneck spends. Does that extra money really that Teaneck spends show up in a better school experience for the students? Or is it just a sign of a broken pay system in the Teaneck Public schools that gives such high salaries without reference to whether the money is being wisely spent.
John Santaella July 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM
You could have easily used English or math or history. You used phys. ed because of the perceived public image of phys ed teachers. You are being disingenuous and it isn't becoming to this forum.
Josh Hosseinof July 22, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Choose whatever category you want and show numbers where Teaneck is not paying more for the same teachers than other neighboring school districts. You accuse me of being disingenuous, but you don't post anything to contradict what I wrote. I posted a more academic example below. The URL to search for your own comparisons is here so you can prove me wrong: http://php.app.com/edstaff/search.php Math teachers non-elementary - Teaneck - 20 teachers -13 earn over $90k, of those 7 earn over $100k http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?pageNum_Recordset1=0&totalRows_Recordset1=20&county=BERGEN&district=TEANECK&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=Math+Non-Elementary&Submit=Submit Tenafly - 19 Math non-elementary teachers - 9 earn more than $90k, of those only 2 earn more than $100k http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?pageNum_Recordset1=0&totalRows_Recordset1=19&county=BERGEN&district=TENAFLY&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=Math+Non-Elementary&Submit=Submit Bergenfield - 16 Math non-elementary teachers - only 1 earns over 90k, and 0 over $100k http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?pageNum_Recordset1=0&totalRows_Recordset1=16&county=BERGEN&district=BERGENFIELD&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=Math+Non-Elementary&Submit=Submit Dumont - 11 teachers, 1 earns over $90k, 0 earn over $100k. http://php.app.com/edstaff/results2.php?pageNum_Recordset1=0&totalRows_Recordset1=11&county=BERGEN&district=DUMONT&school=%25&lname=&fname=&job1=Math+Non-Elementary&Submit=Submit
zizi July 22, 2012 at 03:26 AM
Teaneck can in fact stop contributing from this contract on... previous obligations will still haunt the tax payers for generations....
Clark July 22, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Tom -thank you for highlighting this statistic. There is a perception that teaneck has a majority population that does not avail itself of the public school system. In fact, it's simply that. A perception.
Tom Abbott July 22, 2012 at 02:42 PM
In fact it cannot stop contributing to pensions. It's against the law no matter how often you repeat it.
Tom Abbott July 23, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Not correct! Textbooks purchased for the public schools are paid for out of the public school budget supported by local property taxes. The state does not fund textbooks for the public schools. The purchase of text books for use in the public schools does not come from the state. They are paid for out of the
zizi July 23, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Tom & company: Why don't you answer Josh....... It only means we need to change the law.......
Josh Hosseinof July 23, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Can you explain what role a "Teacher-dean" actually performs in the school? And why the high school needs 4 of them?
Barbara Ley Toffler July 23, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Again, for accuracy: in 2010 Christie CUT our $2 million in reserves (i.e. took it away). Then he denied us the anticipated $4 million in state aid. $2 million + $4 million = $6 million. The BOE tried to replace that $6 million with a $6 million budget increase. C. Parker, C. Honis and I suggested that the increase be cut by $3 million, not ideal but not devastating. The other 4 councilmembers voted to cut $6.1 million. $6 million + $6.1 million = $12.1 million cut from the public school budget in 2010. Re analyses about student performance. Esther Sandrof has done an analysis that tells a very different story from the one perpetrated by the anti-public school crowd. Perhaps she will share it on Patch.
JustSayin July 23, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Gov Christie did not "take" anything. He required that the District spend down the reserves (not completely, but to a lower level) rather tax the taxpayers for the $2M. FYI - McGreevey did something pretty similar in 2004. Again looking at the comparative spending guide Total Spending Actual 08-09: 89,947,855 Actual 09-10: 95,358,833 Revised Budget 10-11 88,832,071 Makes it a little hard to view this as a $12M cut. Basically the Budget was rolled back to within 2% of what it had been 2 years before and before the start of the recession. What is more amazing is that the Board had no issue raising spending about 6% in the first full school year of the recession.


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