The New Providence Taxpayers Association (NPTA) urges the Superintendent of Schools and Board of Education (BOE) to adopt a zero percent tax increase for the 2011/2012 school  budget with a one percent decrease in salaries and in the school budget overall for each of the next ten years.  The Superintendent and School Board must realize that any increase in taxes is unfair to residents in this difficult economy.  Residents are being paid lower wages, many residents have been working without a salary increase for the past three years and our senior residents are entering the second year without a cost of living increase.  Therefore, any increase in the school tax would be improper and too much for residents to endure. 

To assist the NPBOE in meeting this request the NPTA is proposing the following:

Promote greater transparency by giving online access to the proposed 2011/2012 budget detail at a sub-account level.  Included with the budget should be the top 10% of salaries or top 5 salaries for each department whichever is greater, overtime per department and all labor contracts.  It is important that all taxpayers have the information that they need and deserve, so they can ask informed questions of their school administrators regarding how tax dollars are being spent. Follow Summit’s initiatives in this area.  Transparency leads to trust and without trust there is doubt as to whether the appropriate fiduciary responsibility is being met.

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As strongly suggested by your auditor, Matthew Donohue in November, 2010 taxpayers must be assured that  zero-based budgeting was used to compile the 2011/2012 school budget.  Taxpayers deserve a new look at every line item and must be assured that the appropriate action was taken to bring the 2011/2012 budget in-line with taxpayer expectations of a zero percent increase.  The taxpayers would like to hear that a Zero-Based Budgeting Committee to build the budget from scratch was used.  Following the “old rule” of building a budget on prior year’s costs is not a responsible approach in today’s environment.  A new look at all line items has to be pursued. 

 

Provide for a meaningful reduction of staff positions at the BOE District Office through the consolidation of positions or through a sharing of positions within or among districts. Two districts can reduce the cost of one administrator thereby reducing salary liability and the cost of benefits. The same argument can be made for the curriculum overseers.  If the State mandates the requirements why not share the position.

 

Reduce the overall 14 administrative positions that currently serve our 4 schools.

Share before / after school programsand summer programs between municipalities and school districts.

Eliminate non-essential subjects from the school curriculum.

 

Going Forward:

Public Contract Negotiations:  While the NPTA understands the possible need for closed session discussions, there is no need to keep the starting negotiating proposals a secret from the taxpayers.  Taxpayers elect our officials but we do not abdicate all of our rights, especially our right to know what is being negotiated.  The Millstone Board of Education successfully negotiated their teacher contract with open proposals (posted on their school website).  All citizens, including parents, teachers and students had a much clearer understanding of the issues.  Currently the Mount Olive BOE and Roxbury Township are considering a similar process.

 

Pension Plans:  The NPTA is asking that our elected and appointed representatives work diligently to pursue a phase-in of pension plan revisions to replace the existing non-sustainable defined benefit plans for all teachers and administrators. Eighty-four percent of state and local employees retain defined benefit coverage, compared to twenty-one percent of private sector workers.

Sincerely,

New Providence Taxpayers Association

Executive Committee