Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Matawan Man-Eater

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published elsewhere on August 14, 2007, prior to the creation of

As local homeowners watch their adjustable rate mortgages pop higher, their homes lose tens of thousands of dollars in equity, and the number of foreclosures last year in Monmouth County rise over 70%, our school board feels that now is the time to hire another Latin instructor. Perhaps he can operate the scoreboard in our new $1.5 million football field.

Despite promises to spend our money more “effectively”, not one of the recently elected board members would even entertain the concept of “budget cuts”. Nor do we know the cost of new programs, such as outgoing Superintendent Quinn's “Response to Intervention” for kindergartners.

What are we getting for our $62 million (a fifty percent increase over the 2000 budget)? According to the State of New Jersey's report card for the academic year 2005-2006, at $13,231 per pupil -

  • Our students rank below the state average for advanced proficiency in math and language

  • Our students are below the state average in SAT math and verbal scores

  • Less than 10% of 11th and 12th graders took and passed an advanced placement test

  • Fewer than half of seniors plan to attend a four-year college

  • 9.1% of our students are labeled learning disabled

  • Three advanced placement classes each have only one registered student

  • Our students have less instructional time than the state average

Considering we have a high faculty ratio earning above average salaries in an upper middle income neighborhood, these results are abysmal.

The public school component already comprises two-thirds of our property taxes and is growing faster than any other part of local government. For the upcoming year, the school board voted unanimously to increase employee benefits by nearly 11%. The latest tax increase will cost the average homeowner another $300 per year and over $4,000 in lost home equity.

Consider the following: If we simply issued $9,000 school vouchers for the local private schools, our costs would drop 30%. That's equal to a 20% cut in property taxes.

(Editor's Note: For a list of possible school remedies, please read Reforming Our Schools. >>> Read more!

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