We can agree that Edison's biggest tax burden comes from the Board of Education. The issue for me has always been how to direct funding to educating students while avoiding waste.
While I was an elected member of Edison's BOE for 3 terms (1994 to 2002) and previously with the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Board (1972 to 1976) I continuously tried to be fiscally responsible...my question always was "how does this improve education and what is the tax impact?" Some of the things we accomplished were transferring the burden of health insurance to the employees, auditing the proposed budgets and questioning in detail construction and maintenance contracts. I failed to save industrial education in the middle schools (who will fix your BMW?), put a real lid on union contracts and control the central office expenses including Superintendent salaries.
So when I evaluate candidates for the November election I look to how specifically they will be fiscally responsible. The usual pronouncements that "I'm all for the kids" is nice but for me this signifies a lack of interest in the real issue of controlling costs, especially labor contracts. Being fiscally intelligent translates into more money for educating our students.
This brings me to what I see as the major flaw for most boards. That is their utter lack of expertise negotiating union contracts. The prospective candidates may have a string of degrees, membership in laudable organizations, but many lack the professional experience that the NJEA and ETEA have. This I have seen first-hand over my 12 years.
As a voter and taxpayer I will evaluate each of the candidates on these issues and abilities which I hope others will do likewise.
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