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Additional State Education Aid Won't Offset Taxes, Cuts

Fair Lawn received over $500,000 more in state aid this year, but it's already earmarked to cover unfunded state mandates.

Don't get too excited about . It won't be going to reduce your taxes, add jobs and programs, or prevent prospective personnel cuts.

The money will be used primarily to prepare the district for what Superintendent Bruce Watson calls additional unfunded mandates coming down from the state like Excellent Educators for New Jersey (EE4NJ) -- the state's proposed teacher evaluation system --and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) -- which designs computer-based student assessments built on the Common Core State Standards.

Eleven districts statewide are currently piloting EE4NJ, the teacher evaluation program, with the expectation that it will be rolled out in all districts next year and provide annual teacher evaluations based on standards of effective teacher practices and student achievement.

Watson said by next school year districts are expected to have purchased, installed, trained with and implemented one of four web-based evaluative packages. He said the process, which is not funded by the state, will be arduous and expensive.

"We have to begin as soon as possible, certainly no later than starting in Septmember," Watson said. "An advisory committee needs to be formed to do an investigation of the four packages."

To prepare the district for a future where paper and pencil assessments are replaced by online PARCC assessments -- which Watson said is slated for the 2013-2014 school year -- the district is moving forward with technology and infrastructure updates.

"We've got to add labs, we've got to purchase software, go through the training, get the teachers in a group to show them," Watson said. "Next year will be absolutely crazy with all that stuff."

While Watson said the aid coming from Trenton is certainly welcome, he's not pleased with the way it's been marketed as an increase by the Christie administration.

"Three years ago we lost $4.1 million in state aid, and now they’re giving it back to us in these dribs and drabs, and the marketing campaign is that they've increased state aid," he said. "Well that’s nice, but its disingenuous. We're still where we were three years ago. It's all political and it's all marketing in my opinion, but we are getting the money and I'm thankful for that. I have to use it to prepare ourselves for these unfunded mandates."

Kevin Wilson March 06, 2012 at 01:35 PM
The High School Hockey team already pay 1200.00 per player and 160.00 for Jersey and socks to play on the team. It is the only sport at Fair Lawn HS which is Pay to Play.
Jenne March 06, 2012 at 03:43 PM
All I can say is I hope the teachers who rebelled against using the math curriculum in the elementary schools retire before they have to deal with the computerized assessments!
Jenne March 06, 2012 at 03:48 PM
P.S. Thom Paine-- Fair Lawn does a lousy job to with gifted students from what I've seen, and it's stupid. Well, handled, those students help the district get those prized NJ-ASK scores; but Fair Lawn is more concerned with being 'fair' to athletics and 'character education'. The better comparison is that if you want to get anything beyond a book group-- which the public library does better, without requiring grades or testing-- or an independent study project-- they tell you to spend thousands sending your kid to the gifted center in Wyckoff.
MoneyisNOtALL March 06, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Well it seems like something has to give, 86 million dollar budget on middle class wages has taken its toll on Fair Lawn. Time for a change at the Board of Ed!
Tommy P March 07, 2012 at 01:06 AM
@Jenne, most of Fair Lawn's gifted wind up at Bergen Catholic, Don Bosco and other private schools. Those exceptional students who do attend our schools are under served. While we spend a fortune on "special needs" kids, we do nothing special for the gifted. All this highlights the value of Parental Choice and the folly government education.

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