As we can see by the results in more than 50% of the school districts in New Jersey, the majority of taxpayers "Walked what they Talked" and voted "Loud N Clear." The idea of Taxpayers continuing as a never-ending source of funds is over and now is the turning point in which we demand that schools provide educational excellence coupled with fiscal responsibility!
Also as our governor and residents across this state echoed, "Schools need to share the pain" in this difficult economic climate within the state and rescind their wages and pay something for healthcare. This was clearly on the minds of residents as they see their fellow neighbors and family members struggle greatly in this dire economy!
And finally, in the case of Berkeley Heights there is one additional matter that is equally telling - Only 1 out of 2 voters chose to confirm the existing BOE members. This should clearly send all BOE members the message that you have failed us and to wise up!
I am especially proud of my home community, Berkley Heights, where nearly 40% of the electorate turned out and nearly 60% voted "Loud N Clear" against this proposal.
But, before we get too excited we all need to understand that this is only a Round 1 victory. Now it goes to everyone's respective town council for review and determination as to whether to cut the proposed budget (and by how much) or leave it as is. SO IT SHOULD BE CLEAR THAT OUR WORK IS NOT OVER!
With that said, it will be imperative that residents turn out at these town council meetings in the same numbers as they did at the ballot box to "Demand Their Elected Officials to Make the Necessary Cuts".
As we all know in years past when resident have rejected school budgets and they were sent to the council, only small "token cuts" were made and that is not sufficient this time. "WE MUST DEMAND THAT THE CUTS BE SIGNIFICANT ENOUGH TO LOWER THE TAX INCREASE TO THE 2% RANGE"!
As one of the "Independent Stewards" to ensure that all residents of Berkeley Heights receive the necessary tax relief along with delivering educational excellence coupled with fiscal responsibility, we have already identified "non-essential" budget cuts and have called for at least 1 year of teacher's wage concessions (not 2 or 3 months), teachers contributing more to their medical insurance and for the non-bargaining units we are also seeking further concessions!
Again, this was a great victory but let's please ensure that we show up and speak volumes at our Town Council meetings to hold our elected officials accountable. Remember, just because they may be Republicans doesn't mean they are fiscal conservatives - They have proved us wrong far too often! Now it will allow us to see who on our council has common sense and is on the side of taxpayers.
And in the case of Berkeley Heights with a November election looming and Councilman Bruno having been a Board Member and having his eye on the Mayor's chair, it will be interesting to see who he sides with on this matter. Whoever said "politics makes for strange bedfellows" was profound.
LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU ALL AT THE BERKELEY HEIGHTS TOWN COUNCIL MEETING!