Board of Education

[20 May 2010 | No Comment | 78 views]

From The Record:

ENGLEWOOD — The City Council agreed to cut $1.6 million from the tax levy portion of the school budget this week, nearly a month after voters rejected the plan at the polls.

The council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night that calls for a $46.4 million tax levy, down from the original $48.1 million proposed by the Board of Education.

The new plan, reformulated by the council’s subcommittee consisting of Mayor Frank Huttle, Councilman Ken Rosenzweig and Councilwoman Lynne Algrant, restores nearly everything related to classroom instruction and does not call for any teacher layoffs. Joe Kelly, a certified public accountant, was hired as a consultant to the subcommittee and was paid $4,500, City Attorney William Bailey said Tuesday.

Huttle said the subcommittee spent several late nights working with school board members and carefully examining the budget to ensure that the majority of the money would go directly into the classroom.

That meant putting capital projects, such as new central offices for the administration and a new location for the alternative high school — both are now housed at the Liberty School — on the back burner.

“At this time, capital projects should be voted on by referendum,” Huttle said, calling the new plan a “win-win for students and teachers.”

“When things are tough, we have to work harder and differently. … We have reinstated instructional staff and there will be no increase in class sizes,” he said.

Huttle’s remarks drew applause from many in the packed meeting — a stark contrast from a public meeting two weeks before, when some audience members criticized the mayor for urging voters to defeat the budget a few days before the election.

Anita Shemesh, co-president of the Englewood Teachers Association, was one of more than a dozen teachers who wore a T-shirt reading “Year 2, no contract” to the meeting. She thanked Huttle and the council for making classroom instruction the priority, but said morale in the district had been low since June 2008, when the teachers’ contracts expired.

Huttle said the contract issue was in the school board’s hands, and was not discussed by the subcommittee. Barring a settlement in the next few months, teachers will be entering their third year without a contract.

The city’s plan will be put to a vote tonight by the Board of Education at a special 7:30 p.m. meeting at Grieco Elementary School. The board, which formed its own subcommittee to work with the City Council on the budget, will vote on whether to accept the new tax levy. If members accept it, any decisions on how they will spend the money will take place next week.

Longtime resident Laura Vogel said she was impressed by the committee’s efforts and wanted to set the record straight about why she voted against the budget.

“When the budget failed, people were saying that those who voted for the budget were pro-teachers and those who voted against it were anti-education or didn’t have children in the schools,” Vogel said.

“There are a lot of people on my street who have children in the schools, but voted against it, and it had nothing to do with the teachers. … It was because of the tax increase, which we just can’t take.”

Councilman Jack Drakeford, who supported the plan, said council members shouldn’t celebrate just yet.

“We can tell you how much money we’ve given you, but we can’t tell you how to spend it, so nothing is guaranteed right now,” Drakeford said. “We’ll have to wait and see what the Board of Education does.”

  • Share/Bookmark
[25 Apr 2010 | No Comment | 346 views]

While the people of Englewood voted for a revision of the proposed school budget, I want to thank the School Board members and Superintendent Segall for their tremendous effort in the face of a short deadline and the removal of state aid imposed by Governor Christie.

We now have the opportunity to re-visit our budget priorities and re-work the budget in a way that builds citizen confidence. It can be done! As your Mayor, it is my goal to find the common ground that does right by our deserving students and honor to our hardworking taxpayers.

What’s next is clearly defined by New Jersey State Law and the NJ Department of Education. The process promotes absolute transparency so each of us can be informed and participate. I urge every citizen to be engaged in the process. Click here to view an excellent presentation prepared by the New Jersey Department of Education that walks you through the budget process.

Between now and May 19th there is a consultation period with the Board of Education, the school district administration, the City Council and me – all under the guidance of the County Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Graham.

By April 28th, the Board of Education will prepare what is called the “defeated budget information package” along with a letter of transmittal to the Mayor and City Council. The defeated budget package includes:

  1. The Proposed Budget for 10-11
  2. Salary schedules for all employees (09-10 & 10-11)
  3. Pupil enrollment by grade as of 6/30/09, 10/15/09 & projected for 2010-11
  4. The number of schools & classrooms, including pupil capacity in each classroom
  5. Detailed tuition analysis
  6. Analysis of professional & nonprofessional staff, 2009-10 & projected for 2010-11 (including a list of retirees).
  7. Proposed capital projects and/or deposits into capital reserve
  8. Copies of BOE’s most recent annual report, annual audit, comparative spending guide, and report card
  9. Any other information deemed appropriate by Executive County Superintendent for a specific BOE

This material will be carefully reviewed by the Mayor and City Council. The City Council will then set the amount of taxes to be levied in order to accomplish the Budget.The School administration and the School Board will be able appeal certain aspects of the Council’s decision to the NJ Department of Education, if they so choose. To make this less likely, I recommend that the City Council form a sub-committee with Council Members and the Mayor and the Board of Education also create a sub-committee to work together, collaborating to deliver a budget that can be endorsed by both the City and the Board of Education.

I look forward to helping facilitate a process that will lead to a sound and equitable final budget that will be a win-win for our schools, for our students and for all our citizens.

Best regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

  • Share/Bookmark
[21 Apr 2010 | One Comment | 332 views]

By now, we’ve all heard the outcome of yesterday’s school board election and the defeat of the 2010-2011 school budget.

Before I comment on it, I first would like to thank all of the candidates who ran for School Board during one of the most difficult fiscal environments in years. Volunteering for public service, doing the hard work of campaigning to get your message across to our citizens at a time of great uncertainty is something for which each candidate should be commended.

I would also like to deeply thank our incumbents for their service over this past term of office on the School Board. I would especially like to single out Joan Meltzer, whose years of service in the support of our students and schools have been extraordinary. We all owe her a tremendous debt and a great deal of gratitude.

Before the budget vote, I had stated in an open letter to the City that as your Mayor — and as an experienced business attorney and Certified Public Accountant – it was both my professional and civic duty to advise Englewood citizens to vote no on the budget and return it back to the City for reformulation to get it right.

Today, I am grateful that the majority of this week’s voters determined the same thing.

I want to assure every resident, every student and every taxpayer in the City of Englewood that this can be a win-win for everyone. The defeat of this budget will not harm our students. Nor will it mean larger class sizes, fewer teachers and fewer resources. It does mean that we have an opportunity to take a careful look at our budget priorities, how we plan for them and what we can accomplish effectively and efficiently throughout this difficult budget year.

I am absolutely committed to the excellence of our schools. I will not rest until we do whatever is necessary to allow us to accomplish a budget for 2010-2011 that focuses on directly benefiting our students. Now is the time for all of us to come together to accomplish this goal.

We will move forward together, going through the next steps in a process clearly defined by state law and the rules and regulations of the NJ Department of Education. I will share with you all the details of this process shortly, so please check back at EnglewoodOne.com.

Again, congratulations to the newly elected board members and heartfelt thanks to those who did not prevail. It is the vigor and commitment of citizens who step up and volunteer to serve their community that renews my belief in Englewood and its greatness.

Mayor Frank Huttle III

  • Share/Bookmark
[19 Apr 2010 | No Comment | 123 views]

Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 20th is a very important election day for our City. You will be asked to vote on the proposed school budget for the coming year and, as well, vote for school board members. As your Mayor — and an experienced business attorney and Certified Public Accountant — I’ve looked at the information presented and the options available. It’s both my professional and civic duty to advise Englewood citizens to vote NO on the budget and return the budget back to the City for reformulation and to get it right. Furthermore, I will be voting for Stephen Brown and Glenn Garrison — the only two incumbent Board Members who had the good judgment to vote no on the Budget — and Enrique Diaz, their running mate.

Why I am Voting no on the Budget?

The School Budget as approved by the Board contains an increase in the school tax levy of 4.82% over last year’s budget. An increase of this size is certainly troubling; however, what is more troubling is the “process” that led to the formulation of this budget. The budget provided to the public on the eve of the public hearings provided limited details of the $63 million budget. I’ve learned a couple of valuable lessons about information and decision making:

1) Inadequate information leads to bad decisions.

2) Imaginary obstacles are insurmountable and real ones aren’t.

But how can you tell the difference between real and imaginary when you lack sufficient real information?

There are millions of dollars of “cushions” buried in this budget that do not go to classroom education. In the face of teacher layoffs, this budget proposes millions of dollars to construct an administration building instead of using existing facilities. Faced with massive state cuts in education, is this the time for a $3.5 million capital expansion program at the expense of our children?

There is another $6.8 million that is not in the Budget that the School will receive from the City this year as a result of the Board of Education having sold its school buildings several years ago. When this money is paid, it can help save teachers’ jobs, pay expenses and reduce the tax levy. Our children come first, and with $6.8 million of cash available, we need to get it right and get it done now.

I believe that the proponents to the Budget are not effectively serving the students. I believe that we must pause, re-evaluate and produce good information so we can do right by our children.

For these reasons, I am recommending that you join me in rejecting the proposed school board budget on April 20th. This gives us and the City an opportunity to get it right. This will be a win-win for our children.

An informed vote is vital. While I will be voting for Stephen Brown, Glenn Garrison and Enrique Diaz on Tuesday, I invite you to click here to go the Englewood One Community website for a look at each of the candidates’ platforms as reported by the Suburbanite.

We too often feel helpless in making government serve us. In this case, the quality and value you get from our City are in your hands!

Best regards, and Vote on this Tuesday, April 20, 2010.

Mayor Frank Huttle III

  • Share/Bookmark
[18 Apr 2010 | No Comment | 3,121 views]

The statements below were published in the Suburbanite.

STEPHEN BROWN

I am running for the board to continue the fight to maintain high standards while responsibly managing resources amidst the worst economic recession in generations. The district must re-engineer its operations in order to keep academic standards high without unduly burdening taxpayers.

I believe I have the experience and track record to accomplish these goals.

Like most managers in corporate America, the economy has required me to do my job to the highest quality standards with fewer resources than before. This district must now do the same — reconfigure its operations by cutting extremely high administration costs and working more efficiently. This will save teaching positions, preserve courtesy busing and early-childhood programs. We also must think out-of-the box to find free resources to help our children. For example, three years ago I personally brought to the district the NJ SEEDS College Preparatory Program which prepares academically motivated students with limited financial means for admission to selective colleges. I also orchestrated the district’s “Give a Kid a Smile” program to provide hundreds of students with much needed dental care from local doctors. Both these programs are funded through charitable donations.

I have been against lowering graduation requirements as a way of “helping” failing students. Lowering the academic bar without fixing what’s broken academically and raising taxes without fixing the district’s cost structure is simply not responsible.

I respectfully ask that you vote for me (ballot position #5) so that we can maintain high standards academically and fiscally. Thank you for your consideration.

ANTHONY CURETON

I want to be a member of the Englewood Board of Education because our children are our future. Our schools must provide the environment and opportunity for our students to achieve and excel and highlight the “Quality of Life” concerns of our community for all our residents. Children today must have the literacy, communication and technological skills to be productive and successful.

As a parent and a member of the Board of Education I will encourage and vigorously promote policies and programs that strive for and support high academic achievement in a balance with positive social, cultural and personal individual development. Realizing that tax increases are a concern, it will be my position as a board member not to increase taxes, but to examine how cuts can occur without compromising children’s education. The consolidation of services with the City of Englewood could result in cost savings for the district, which can be allocated to programs and staffing that, perhaps, are subject to budget cuts. I feel the Englewood Public School System is striving to become better and I support flagship programs such as dual language immersion, the Avid & Ivy Program and Academies@Englewood.

These innovative and challenging new ideas established a positive, new basis and foundation on which to build. We must now focus on challenging all students to perform at levels comparable to those in our flagship programs. Our ultimate goal should be to have Englewood achieve the distinction of being a statewide and national “Blue Ribbon School System.”

ENRIQUE DIAZ

As parents, my wife and I have learned to set high expectations for our children – whether in their schoolwork, chores or how they behave as young citizens. In these difficult times, we, like many of our neighbors, have had to sacrifice to live within our means. But we know, no matter how difficult the times, we cannot lower our expectations for children.

Our children attend the Englewood Public Schools. I have volunteered there and as a Little League coach and in the Jr. Football program. I have seen firsthand how children need coaching, mentoring and high expectations.

The current recession has had a devastating effect on Englewood’s schools. Taxpayers are suffering. State funding is disappearing and the district can no longer operate under the pretense of “business as usual.” Compounding the problem is that some board members seem more concerned with lowering standards than addressing the schools’ economic crisis.

I am running because I believe my education and professional experience in finance give me the skills needed to tackle the financial challenges ahead. My experiences as a parent have taught me that we must keep expectations high for all children.

Moving forward, the district must examine each program from the ground up and understand how every dollar is spent.

Tough decisions will have to be made. We must invest in success, keep our standards high and learn to live within our means.

I hope you will join me in this fight.

GLENN GARRISON

When I moved to Englewood in 1989, people said, “It’s a great town, but stay away from the schools.” My wife and I both attended public schools and believe strong schools are the foundation of a strong community. When the time came to enroll our own children in school, we chose to roll up our sleeves and work to build a school system in Englewood that meets the needs of all our children.

As an active public school parent and board member, I am proud of our accomplishments. Asked to oversee our multi-year construction program, I worked hard to deliver the new Grieco School and upgrade our other schools. I partnered with the superintendent to develop curriculum to prepare our children for the Academies@Englewood. I fought for interscholastic sports at the middle school so our young teens have “somewhere to be” during critical after-school hours.

We have more work ahead. Facing our greatest financial crisis in years, we must do more with less and develop creative solutions for our funding needs. For example, when I learned the district wasn’t applying for reimbursement of students’ physicals and other therapy expenses, I insisted we do so. We have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result.

It’s time to muster our strengths, ingenuity and experience to keep our schools moving forward despite the challenges we face. I ask you to support me in this mission. On April 20, please vote for Glenn Garrison (ballot position 4).

JOAN MELTZER

I’m running for reelection to the school board. I have been committed to education from my children’s K-12 years, through my 10 years as director of the In-School Volunteer Program into the present. My goal upon reelection is to bring to fruition our work in progress.

My priorities are to:

1) educate our children

2) keep teachers in the classroom

3) control the tax burden

Education is not a one-size-fits-all process. I am ombudswoman for all children: those in the Academies and Academies-prep, striving standard achievers and those needing extra help.

Young children are “wired” to learn: curious, active, open. Early childhood education is essential for brain development and later academic success. We must pick up children when they totter, before the vicious cycle of failure and remediation begin. Currently our budget has been hit by the perfect storm: $5.7 million of customary state aid has been eliminated by governor’s decree. The bulk of our expenditures are salaries, health benefits, utilities, maintenance and repairs. Little discretionary monies are left for athletics, libraries and summer and after-school programs which benefit our children. Everyone has been hit and affected by the deep ongoing recession. Therefore, the superintendent with the board’s consent, has eliminated since the 2008-2009 budget, including the 2010-2011 budget, 31 teachers, five teacher assistants, six secretaries, two technicians and 10 administrators while trying to retain essential education programs for our children. Our ongoing challenge is to balance fiscal restraint with our mission to keep improving student achievement.

ESTHER SANTIAGO-BABB

I am a married mother of two and proud Englewood homeowner. My son attends Grieco Elementary School.

I graduated from DMHS and attended FDU. Before becoming a full-time mom, I worked in management. Presently and for the last four years, I have worked vigorously for parent empowerment through the local PTOs and community outreach forums; mentor training for our youth and school volunteer programs through the Englewood Education Alliance and cross-racial and cultural understanding and appreciation with the newly formed Voices group.

I am running for the Englewood Board of Education because I want our children to graduate with the same children with whom they started pre-K. A Board of Education sets policy and when I am elected I hope to work with the sitting membership to create policies that will support our administration and our faculty in the use of research based instructional strategies that will meet the learning needs of ALL children. Our children must be in schools that afford them the opportunity to reach their full intellectual, academic and social potential.

As districts across the state continue to reel from the governor’s current cuts the Board of Education must use a new and proactive approach because what is happening currently is not working for too many children.

Vote for change! Vote for me April 20 and I promise to work really hard and diligently with the sitting board members to plan and set appropriate goals that will benefit ALL the children and to achieve the distinction of Blue Ribbon status.

  • Share/Bookmark
[4 Apr 2010 | One Comment | 202 views]

The Board of Education is the ultimate and final authority over the schools in our City. All budgeting, the levying of school taxes on your property, the setting of school policy and the hiring of the staff and administration of the schools is handled by the Board of Education. There are seven members of the Board of education and they are directly elected by the citizens of Englewood to three year terms.

  • Share/Bookmark