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School Budget Input Wanted in Wayne

Special meeting will be held Thursday at Wayne Hills High School.

Superintendent Ray Gonzalez / Patch file photo
Superintendent Ray Gonzalez / Patch file photo

There will be a special public meeting on the school district’s budget for the 2014-15 school year.

The meeting is designed so officials can present information on the pending budget and solicit input from residents.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Wayne Hills High School auditorium.

The average homeowners’ school taxes increased $164 last year. The tax levy, the portion of the budget raised by local taxes was $130.4 million. The total budget was $141 million.

The average homeowner paid $5,866 in school taxes last, a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year.

Bobtwo January 10, 2014 at 08:16 AM
Out of control. If you are paying 100K in real estate taxes it is only 5% or so. If you are paying 10K - 12k in real estate taxes it is considerably more.
Wayne's World January 10, 2014 at 08:56 AM
Not sure what you mean, Bob. Our real estate taxes are around 4% of home value or 2% of assessed value. At this point, 2.5% annual increase is about in line with inflation, so it's hard to be upset about that. Having said that, most of us are irked by the perception that there is a lot of bureaucratic waste in the system. $140 million would seemingly take us further as a school system. For that kind of money, we should be state of the art, and in the top 25 schools, neither of which is the case. Consolidation of the schools as the population shrinks is probably the easiest way to achieve cost savings as there are fewer facilities to take care of. One idea is to consolidate all of the kindergarten classes into one elementary school and offer full day classes. At the end of the day, small class sizes, a challenging curriculum (many AP classes) and education relevant to future skills (while still teaching the basics) is going to have the largest impact on an educated student body.
Bobtwo January 10, 2014 at 09:14 AM
Wayne, I am not sure of your comments. Your arguments has been presented many times over the years but nothing has been done about it. Simply speaking I am stating that approximately 50% of real estate taxes go towards education or the the Board of Education. In my mind it is out of control when one item monopolizes such a high percentage of the budget. The value of a home may be an asset but it is an asset that we derive no income from but requires that we pay a real estate tax on.
Flood Plain January 10, 2014 at 09:56 AM
The only input needed to begin the budget process for 2014-15 is to reduce total spending, bureaucracy, and duplicate and assessed programs that have little or no value to the whole system. Then look at the individual budget lines and eliminate those items that are not absolutely necessary for a quality education. Period.
Wayne's World January 10, 2014 at 10:10 AM
Bob - NJ has a crazy funding formula for schools derived from local tax base. In a town with a lot of kids (but also lots of ratables), that creates a heckuva tax burden. Look into the Abbot school funding mandated by NJ supreme court, and you will see that the rest of the state picks up the tab for AC, Camden, Trenton, Paterson, JC, Newark, Hoboken, NB, Asbury Park and other school systems, while the middle class and affluent school systems get almost no help from the state in school funding. Essentially, Wayne and other towns are paying 98% of their local school costs AND contributing to these other place. THAT's where our money is REALLY going. Of course, those costs are buried in our absurd income taxes, not from our property taxes, so it's harder to notice. The school funding formula, coupled with the fact that almost 20% of Wayne's population are school-aged children, makes it unsurprising that 50% of our tax dollar goes to schools. Personally, I think the largest waste is the 25% of the tax bill that goes to the county - another place where Wayne gets screwed by contributing most/receiving least. Everyone would like to see the 50% come down but I agree with Flood Plain, SOMEONE has to hold the BOE accountable by going through every single budget line, ELIMINATING bureaucratic waste and duplication to the extent possible. No matter what we do, educators' benefits and pension liability remain a stubbornly high portion of any budget, so efficiency rather than cuts is probably the best we can aspire to.
Pad January 11, 2014 at 07:08 AM
Taxpayer Input boils down to one thing and that is CUT THE BUDGET! Spender Gonzalez is out of control. 5 million for security upgrades? No. 2 person what is she doing? Is she still employed in Wayne? After her incident she should have been fired. Enrollment is suppose to be going down so that should lower cost, solar panels should lower cost but in Wayne every time they save a dollar they spend two dollars. The entire school district needs an investigation into all financial holdings, expenditures and hiring practices. The school bus re-location another financial blunder that will cost more in the long run. No matter whether the money comes from the State or the Wayne taxpayers its still tax money collected from our citizens. Did we truly need a third middle school with enrollment now dropping? The waste of money in Wayne is unbelievable. 141 million per school year is unbelievable. At that rate our schools should be #1 in the State but they are not and have dropped over the years. There is also too many high paid administrative positions there should be cuts made. Freeze hiring and spending that would be a good start.
Bobtwo January 11, 2014 at 08:18 AM
Pad, could not have said it better. We can not pay a superintendent more than 175K so he hires an assistant for 160K per year. Who knows what perks are hidden with his package? Where is the savings. Totally out of control. You can play all kinds of games with numbers but the bottom line is that approximately 50% of my real estate tax goes to the Board of Education.
Chicken Little January 11, 2014 at 11:52 AM
@Bobtwo Your comment raises a good question: Is there anyplace in New Jersey that has significantly less than 50% of its local tax earmarked for its school district?
Chicken Little January 11, 2014 at 11:55 AM
"Earmarked" is not an accurate term. But, you get the gist of what I mean.
Bobtwo January 11, 2014 at 01:43 PM
Chicken Little, I don't believe that there is. Since they all have the same administrative structure for the school system and derive their income from the home owner it seems to me that the burden would be the same for each municipality. Because each township budget is comprised of 50% for education does not mean that the budgets are not inflated. The teachers in each town belong to the same union requiring the same benefit packages and salaries. Each town competes against the other, example the expensive middle school that was built in Wayne which we may not have needed or perhaps a less expensive school could have been built. It seems to me that no one wants to hold the line.
Pad January 12, 2014 at 08:41 AM
Salaries and benefits differ from town to town and some towns are fiscally conservative in their budgets. Being fiscally conservative in Wayne is not even thought of because in Wayne the thinking is we always have to have the best. No matter what it cost or the burden on the taxpayers. Wayne has wasted so much tax dollars its unbelievable. The last two superintendent's, the bus move, the PR firm, the new middle school and now these two bozo's that they hired. Yes, it should be public knowledge what these two have in their contracts. Why is he receiving bonuses for meeting goals that he sets for himself? He receives a good salary and he should do his job. BTW Where is #2 and what is she doing? You would think after the incident that she would have been let go! More dirt under the rug at Nellis Drive.

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