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As a past trustee of the Ringwood Board of Education, I can express my personal opinions on education here but nothing expressed should be considered to be Ringwood Board of Education opinion or policy.  These opinions are mine and mine alone and are expressed to keep my friends and neighbors informed about how their tax dollars are being used to educate their children.

  • Taxes - Back in 2010, I wrote that the largest problem facing Ringwood taxpayers today is capital improvements to our schools funded through property taxes.  Major repairs are urgently required for new boilers, roofs, and electrical wiring, among other things, for all of our schools.  When our schools were built thirty or forty years ago, wiring was not designed for our technology rich libraries and media centers with large numbers of computers and printers.  The Ringwood Board of Education must come up with plans that will be acceptable to Ringwood Borough taxpayers.

    The Ringwood School Budget was voted down for the 2010-2011 school year.  I guess enough Ringwood parents weren't concerned enough to get out and vote.  We lost the budget vote by 79 ballots.  For the 2010-2011 school year, Ringwood had to educate students with $2,000,000 less than had been hoped for when the board started working on the budget for the 2010-2011 school year.

    The governor was successful in getting the legislature to pass legislation to limit board of education and municipal budget increases to 2.0% annually starting with the 2011-2012 school year.  This act alone will move New Jersey education from one of the top 2 or 3 states in the U.S. concerning educational achievement to a significantly lower number.

    Today we have significant, stringent restrictions on educational budgets like S-1701.  The basis behind that law was to put tax dollars back in the pockets of state residents by forcing school districts to reduce their taxing capabilities and the size of their surpluses and in this way achieve re-election for (democratic) state government officials.  State residents gladly accepted the school budget cutbacks, but didn't consider much of what would happen when S-1701 was completely enacted.  Residents can now see the results of S-1701.  In conjunction with a $1,000,000 cut in state aid and a $417,000 cut by Ringwood mayor Ted Taukus and the borough council for the 2010-2011 school year.  All of the squeezing of local school budgets and surpluses is done and the tax reductions are over.  We taxpayers may have a couple of difficult years ahead of us as school boards across the state try to escape from this financial jungle.  Our surplus can not exceed 2% of our budget or around $400,000 according to S-1701.  This amount of funding can not even replace a boiler on an emergency basis.  By 2019, the Ted Taukus tax cut has cost Ringwood education a total of $3,753,000.

    The impact of Governor Christie and Mayor Taukus will be felt for many years to come.  The cuts they made were arbitrary and not based on existing or past budgets of the Ringwood School System.  In coming years, the number of teachers will be reduced and class size will be increased.  Children will get less one-on-one time with their teachers.  Students that easily fall between the cracks will more easily do so due to less attention from the educators.  Achievement and test scores will drop.

    As a Ringwood taxpayer and a past school trustee, I am very concerned about our current and future critical school tax situation.  While Ringwood residents would like to see the best possible education provided in Ringwood, we are faced with the dilemma of how much tax can we personally afford.  This fiscal year, 2019-2020,  I, personally, am paying over $3582 for Ringwood district taxes and $1945 for Lakeland taxes.  That's $5528 or almost 57% of my $9705 tax bill for education.  How much more can I afford?  I pay these amounts year after year in spite of the fact that my wife and I never had children.

    It hurts me personally, a 12 year board of education veteran, to see all of the funding for education squeezed out of already tight budgets.


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