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NJSBA: Voters Must Consider All Factors When Deciding Budget
TRENTON, April 13, 2010 —Marie S. Bilik, New Jersey School Boards Association executive director, today issued the following statement in response to Governor Christie’s recent comment that voters should reject proposed school budgets in districts where teachers have not agreed to a wage freeze. Christie made the comment yesterday during a news conference on an unrelated subject. Bilik’s statement follows:
“Assessing proposed budgets on the basis of whether or not teachers agreed to a wage freeze is neither fair nor accurate. It ignores substantial efficiencies that boards have incorporated into the budgets even when the teachers union did not agree to wage concessions.
“NJSBA has supported the governor’s call for a wage freeze, and we urge unions to cooperate with school boards in reopening contracts. However, on April 20, voters should base their decisions on all of the cost efficiencies in proposed budgets and, importantly, education programs and needs.
“NJSBA surveys indicate that over 90 percent of the proposed school district budgets reflect layoffs of staff, and two-thirds will cut extracurricular programs. Substantial numbers of school boards are turning to subcontracting and other methods to preserve education programs. A large number also have received wage concessions from administrators and non-teaching staff.
“In addition, the governor’s comments do not take into account a practical consideration: over one-third of the state’s school districts are now in the process of negotiating contracts that cover the 2010-2011 school year. Therefore, voters in more than 260 school districts won’t even know on April 20 whether or not the board and the union achieved a wage freeze.
“The New Jersey School Boards Association urges citizens to vote on April 20 and to make informed decisions on proposed school budgets and candidates for the 1,619 local board of education positions on the ballot statewide.”
The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of 588 local boards of education and includes 44 charter school associate members. NJSBA advocates the interests of school districts, trains local school board members, and provides resources for the advancement of public education.