Metuchen School District To be Hit Hard by Christie's Cuts

So Governor Christie has issued some damaging news for the New Jersey school system--big cuts. For Metuchen, it accounts for a loss of over $1 MILLION to our district*, accounting for about 5% of the total district budget. How do you make up that kind of deficit? Especially when the other night at the Campbell/Moss PTO meeting Principal Florence Carter confirmed that there would be additional first grade classes at Campbell next year as well as the possiblity of some at Moss, which means that not only are teachers needed but capital improvements are as well. And that's just two out of our four schools. It looks like it's going to be even harder for the Board of Education to come up with a budget that will receive public approval. Elections are in April and the campaigns of BofE candidates are underway. The school district link has all the budget information on it. Whether you're a parent of a district student or a tax-paying resident, make sure you check out this budget  information. The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night. And if you want to make your voice heard around the state, check out this link for NJ Kids.

*Data for post and chart from


I think one of the ways the District could save money is to somehow get the unions to eliminate tenure. Good teachers will keep their jobs while bad teachers will lose them, just like in the private sector. I understand the premise for tenure and why it was inacted (to stop older teachers with higher pay from getting laid off in favor of younger, lesser paid, teachers) but as with everything, the original intention has got lost in the shuffle. There are laws to protect age, etc., so if an older teacher thinks she is being laid off due to their age, then I agree a suit should be instigated, however, that is not the case with several teachers in town. I have heard of many teachers that have been in the District for years (the parents of the current children being taught by them) being burnt out, with parents complaining, but nothing can happen due to their being tenured. Please do not get me wrong, good teachers should be paid well. But bad teachers should not be teaching, period.

Another issue I have with these cuts is how are they helping the tax payer? So the State cuts the amount of money to the school districts, who then has to pick up the shortfall, the taxpayers by raising the property taxes, so how is this saving the taxpayer anything? Is the State (and the Federal government for that matter) fulfilling their monetary obligations for special education, etc? If not, perhaps a class action suit by all the school Districts affected would be the answer to force them to "pay up".

I keep hearing in the town that we should eliminate the District superintendent as the schools basically run themselves. Is this true? Could the District be overseen by the County perhaps, and thus save the taxpayer money? The principals would report to the board and County and then the County prepare the final budget for board and voter approval? How much would we ultimately save, and would that be enough to keep Metuchen solvent?

I am also hearing from High school students how terrible various teachers are at the High School. Does any administrator, board member, think that perhaps talking to these students might make a difference in the kind of teachers Metuchen hires. I hear from my child how great certain teachers are and I ask why. It is quite an eye opener to hear the answers, and it is not for the reasons you might think. Teachers who allow the students to express their thoughts within the confines of the subject,as opposed to simply listening to the subject, which is how some teachers apparently teach, are much more popular. Teachers who go "off topic" are not the popular teachers. I think too little credit is given to students and that they should be asked how they would like to be taught. Times have changed and teaching methods have to move with the times also.

Another issue I have with the school is substitute teachers. I hear so often that my child has watched a movie during a lesson with a substitute teacher. The movie, by the way, has nothing to do with the subject and is a Hollywood movie as opposed to an educational movie. Why are these lessons included in the amount of educational time the children have to spend in school? I thought a subtitute teacher was supposed to follow a teaching plan that the teacher sets out for them, but that doesn't seem to happen in Metuchen. I also take issue with the fact that some of these movies are not age appropriate, and I have complained about this, to no avail. I am also told by my child that they do homework during classes instead of being instructed. Why is this allowed?

Why also, is no-one talking about eliminating bussing? If parents want bussing, they should pay for it. This is a tiny town and if parents think that bussing is a much safer option than driving their children to school, then no parents should be allowed to drive their children to school and every child should be bussed. Crazy notion correct? But eliminating bussing would save the District thousands of dollars.

I don't envy the BOE or the administration with the task at hand, and I don't claim to have the answers. This is simply food for thought.

If he really wanted to do something "brave", he would increase the marginal tax rate for wealthy NJ residents...those making over $400K/yr. Of course, this is anathema to Republican religious dogma....

The cuts are disproportionately affecting those in the middle and bottom of the economic scale.

agreed! all good points.

I can't really comment on the union negotiations. I have no idea how it will play out. Personally, I think that a salary freeze for the upcoming year, for all district employees, is reasonable. There are other possible ways to fill the remaining budget gap, such as suspending funding for things like new technology and professional development, increasing the busing fee, introducing new fees for clubs and sports, and enacting the 1.5% healthcare contribution (as the NJSBA has advocated). Also, there could very well be a wave of early retirements, which of course is a double-edged sword in its own right. I would hope that teacher layoffs are far down on the list of possible fixes.

Agreed and I am no Christy fan but he did say the budget cuts were “15% on average with some districts getting cut more than others”. This will be tough for the district as salaries make up the vast majority of the budget and as we all know good teachers are underpaid but the district is a business too and needs to operate with the parameters of its revenue. The board of education can only do so much the question is what will the teacher’s union do? If they demand salary increases then some teachers and “non essential staff” will need to be laid off to balance the budget. Perhaps the union will compromise and keep salaries flat for one year. While again I understand our good teachers are currently underpaid the alternative is more kids per class and more over worked teachers. Something has to give.

We're only lucky to the degree that we got so little state aid in prior years. The 90% cut in state funding is severe, and is far in excess of the 10-15% reduction Christie told the local districts to expect. Everyone should try to attend tomorrow's Board of Education meeting to get an update on how the cuts have affected Metuchen's school budget and property taxes.

Sounds like we are very lucky! This is the worst economy since the great depression, may, may other districts were hit harder.

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Recent Comments

  • olivias: I think one of the ways the District could save read more
  • Michael: If he really wanted to do something "brave", he would read more
  • brianmkeenan: agreed! all good points. read more
  • Jim Jaques: I can't really comment on the union negotiations. I have read more
  • brianmkeenan: Agreed and I am no Christy fan but he did read more
  • Jim Jaques: We're only lucky to the degree that we got so read more
  • brianmkeenan: Sounds like we are very lucky! This is the worst read more

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