I applaud Michael Fischetti’s focus on outrageous spending in our school district. I’ve been highlighting this issue for years: before, during and after my term on the school board. The bottom line is that 70 percent of the budget goes toward personnel. Just last yearthe board voted 8-1 (I was the 1) to award the teachers’ union a 10.8 percent raise over three years.
He maintains that the district is spending $30,000 per student, but that number is wrong. He’s taking the entire budget--$62.4 million for the school year now ending--but not dividing that by all of the students. There are about 1,750 students in the district K-12 system, but there are another 1,300children enrolled in the three charter schools and the pre-K program.Charters and pre-schools are not funded at the same level as the district’s K-12 program, which often leads to confusion when discussing per-pupil costs.
The school board is responsible for the K-12 budget for the district schools and that’s what my letters have addressed. We’re spending $23,716 per K-12 student so far this year, according to the district’s own website (Hoboken.k12.nj.us). That’s the second-highest amount among the state’s hundreds of K-12 districts, behind Asbury Park, and $10,000 more than the state average.
Unfortunately for all of us taxpayers, $23,716 isn’t enough for board president Leon Gold and the Kids First majority. They voted 6-3 in March to raise our school taxes another 4 percent because they refuse to figure out how nearly every other district in the state manages to spend significantly less than we do.
Former School Board Member