User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: Be Careful What You Ask For You Just Might Get It

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Be Careful What You Ask For You Just Might Get It

Here it is two days after Hitler's birthday, 420 also known as the pot smoker's holiday, or Columbine day.  April 20th was also significant for something else at least just as strange and self destructive.  It was school board election day and the day that voters in over half the state's school districts voted down their school budgets.

I wonder why, considering that these budgets in most cases already included program cuts and teacher layoffs, largly because Governor Christie plans to sharply reduce state aid to school districts next year.  Most districts chose to rase taxes more than they ordinarly would have in order to minimize teacher layoffs and slashed classes and sports programs.

I guess many of these people were listening to Jersey 101.5 which was telling them to vote no because that is what the governor wants them to do.  The Jersey Boys were telling their listeners that school districts are overladen with administrators and that teachers are overpaid and have benefits that nobody else gets.  If only these things were cut back, the schools can continue as before without any tax increases and no pain to the public.

Wrong.   While I don't have any hard numbers in front of me, my guess is that teacher salaries are a small part of school budgets, perhaps 5 or 10 percent.  And even if these salaries were cut, what would be saved, maybe 5 or 10 percent of the 5 or 10 percent total.  Wht that is a half of one percent to one percent of the total budget.  IMPRESSIVE!!!

No the real cost is the cost of the buildings themselves, bond payments for construction costs, maintenance costs, the cost of heat, school buses, books, computers, after school programs, sports, etc.  Also, each additional teacher on the payroll costs money, so money can be saved by cutting back on teachers and eliminating things like honors classes, calculis ,physics, and what not.

There is no free lunch.  And bargains come at a price.

So if you are looking for lower property taxes and hope to get that by cutting back on school budgets, you and have what you want.  But it will come with larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, cutbacks on "extras" like after school programs, and sports.

So if you voted down the school budget don't complain if your kids are attending class with 40 other children, and you have to hire a sitter to watch  them once school is over.  I bet you the sitter will cost more than you will save on your tax bill.

Now if you have high school kids, you probably don't have to worry about sitters or after school programs. However, you probably would care if child is smart and wants to go to a good college, but now that the budget is cut the school cancelled advanced placement English or some other program for gifted students.  And if you don't have a prodogy but your child wants to play sports, don't think you won't be touched.  Remember sports programs cost a lot of money to offer and offer jucy targets for bean counters trying to save a few coins.  Ewing Township aqlready said ice hockey will be cancelled next year.  Could varsity football or basketball be next to be taken off the menu.

So if you want lower property taxes, remember they will come at a price, a price you may not want to pay.