To the Editor:
Recently TAP into Chatham ran a letter to the editor about the proposed Chatham school referendum, suggesting that Chatham was wasting money and should emulate Summit. Summit’s comparative annual cost/student is $1,337/student (10 percent) higher than Chatham's.
In order to equal Summit’s cost structure, Chatham would have to spend $5 million per year more than it currently does. Chatham comes in first in NJ Magazine school rankings, compared to Summit’s 38th place. Simply put, Chatham’s schools are more efficiently and effectively managed than most in the state and have the lowest cost/student of any peer school district.
We should continue to support our board of education in school budget and referendum recommendations. They have a long track record of doing the right thing.
The referendum addresses overcrowding of facilities at all schools resulting from increasing student population as families are drawn to the outstanding school system. At Chatham Middle School, additional labs for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (“STEM”) are included, as well as office space to move board of education administrators from a distant location to be co-located with a school.
To accommodate these additions a new building will house the auditorium displaced in the process. The elementary schools are being expanded by adding 6-8 classrooms. Aging high school facilities are being upgraded to refurbish the outdated auditorium and to address crowding on athletic playing fields and improve safety. Chatham will retain its position as having the lowest cost/student vs peer schools (including Summit) even after the referendum is implemented.
Chatham taxpayers should be proud of the value for money offered by one of the best and most cost-effective school districts in the state. The board of education deserves continued community support in its proposal for a referendum and school budget.
Editor's note: Alan Routh is the board of directors president for Education Counts and a former Chatham Board of Education member.