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$86 Million School Budget Passes With 1.9% Tax Increase

The $86 million 2012-2013 school budget increases teachers and staff while cutting in-house custodial workers

unanimously approved an $86 million 2012-2013 school budget Wednesday that includes a 1.9 percent tax increase.

"We’re looking at one of the best, most advantageous tax impacts to this community that we’ve had in a long, long time," superintendent Bruce Watson said. "We have a monthly tax increase of only $9 to the average assessed homeowner. It’s the lowest it’s been in probably 20 years."

The adopted budget includes 11 new teacher and staff hires in areas of need throughout the district, but also calls for the reduction via outsourcing of between nine and 12 custodial workers.

"These are the things today that we're going to have to do to bring our costs down and put the money over in the education side," Watson said, explaining the custodial cuts.

Last year, to perform nighttime custodial duties in both of the district's middle schools at a cost savings of $230,000.

"Not only did we realize [the expected cost savings]," Watson said, "but our buildings were cleaner."

This year -- with the exception of a district-employed head custodian at each building -- contractors will replace all custodial staff at both midde schools and the high school. Savings are estimated at $450,000. 

Board member Mary Wallace said she opposed the privatization of the custodians, but reiterated that it would not stop her from supporting the budget as a whole.

The district's 11 new hires include two Spanish teachers, a speech teacher, an art teacher, a physical education/health teacher, a resource center teacher, an ESL teacher, an elementary teacher, a remedial kindergarten teacher, a social worker and a psychologist.

"There's a host of reasons why we're adding staff," Watson said, citing an increase in the number of students with socialization issues and an increase in students who are non-native speakers.

The additional kindergarten teacher will be tasked with heading up initiative for children who enter the school system behind their peers academically and need extra attention.

Tommy P March 30, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Violet, it has happened to me. In my business I routine compete on a global basis and have lost business to companies in India, the UK and I am sure elsewhere. I recently hired a person in town who was unemployed for over a year. That's just the way the world works. I don't know the particulars of the negociations, and it sounds like they could have handled it better, but the reality is there are people willing to do the work for less. There is nothing stopping your dad from starting his own business. If your dad is interested in starting a business, Send an email to Zak and have him forward me your email address, I will pay a local company to setup a website for him.
Tommy P March 30, 2012 at 12:25 PM
NJ extortion assosciation propaganda. Next time simply provide the link.
Chris Antonelli March 30, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Go tell it to Vinny. You know nothing of which you speak.
Chris Antonelli March 30, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Can you still file even though the BOE voted to move this to the Partisan elections in Nov?
Chris Antonelli March 30, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Mike, I would take any rankings by a publication with a grain of salt. The only true rank would be provided by the State, and they don't do it. There are too many factors involved in regards to school size and environment. If every school was identical, yeah. Maybe. And they don't even include charter and academies due to "not enough data". Translated: "Wow, seems like the charter schools really do work. But we'll need another 20 years of data to be sure. Better not put that in there." Also, it's NJ Monthly!!!
BellairBerdan March 30, 2012 at 04:56 PM
There is also a big socioeconomic difference between some of those towns and Fair Lawn. Many of those households have two highly educated parents where only one needs to work. That work is usually on an executive level. That puts the child at an advantage and needs less in the schools. Fair Lawn is a town of people working their way up the ladder. Our schools are very good giving the child the ability to climb higher. It is a shame to lose our custodians. I know growing up and seeing a familiar face that was always willing to help was comforting. You may have different teachers every year, but the custodians stayed the same. These contractors may give the town background checks, but who is checking them as they come in at night that these are the same people?
Chris Antonelli March 30, 2012 at 05:23 PM
BB, WTF kind of statement is that? My kids are less intelligent than those from a family with 2 parents that have more education credentials? Wow!!! I believe that's how Obama divided the country.
BellairBerdan March 30, 2012 at 05:32 PM
No, it means they have more advantages and Fair Lawn may spend a little more to equal that out. It has nothing to do with intelligence. But thanks for trying to make it political and dividing the country by ignoring that people that start off with an advantage will always have it unless we educate our children better to close the gap.
FLbyebye March 30, 2012 at 08:04 PM
The last time I went to the high school it appeared dirty, with urine stinking in the hallways and someone "beached" a turd on the outer rim of a toilet bowl, so if hiring new cleaning people fix this, I applaud it if its a true savings and they can keep the school clean. Bottom line is that this Board Of Education is not in touch with the town, none of them are breathing the same air Fair Lawn residents breath, this $86 million dollar budget is not sustainable, Fair Lawn residents cannot afford a Caviar school budget on Beer and Wine salaries residents earn! Time to vote every board of education member out!
Michael Agosta March 30, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I see. Let's make everyone equal and throw more money at it. Here are some facts: Not everyone is going to be rich. Not everyone is going to earn a Ph D. Not everyone is going to "climb the ladder" of success. You cannot force success.
BellairBerdan March 30, 2012 at 10:06 PM
You're right Michael. You can't force success, but you can suppress it.
Richard Zuendt April 02, 2012 at 01:31 AM
If Fair School Funding was the law of the land in Fair Lawn your school system would have gotten an additional $38 million back from the state. That would have paid for all of your programs and given you all a 25% property tax cut, or more. You can thank Bob Gordon for all of your hard earned money going to waste in school districts like Paterson and Passaic. Fair Lawn has only itself to blame.
Tommy P April 02, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Common sense is rather uncommon on the Patch. I believe the number is actually just under $33m, but your absolutely right. Gordon, Eustice and Wagner must all go. The BoE should be replaced as well. After all, they can pass resolutions against having their power limited, but are silent on the taxes we pay. They even boasted how moving the election to November would make it easier to take money from us!
Richard Zuendt April 02, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Thomas Paine: You are right, it is just a tad under $33 million. I was going by memory from the last election. You are right about the move to November for the elections. This was just a move by the politicans, including Christie, to take the power from the people to be able to vote on the only budget they can, school funding. Another thing to take into consideration is that every school budget has to be "approved" by the county superintendent. It is just another example of how the people are having their schools taken away from them.
Stuart Pace April 02, 2012 at 03:13 AM
PACK THE MEETINGS! RUN FOR BOE!!!! GET OFF PATCH AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
LENNY April 02, 2012 at 07:08 PM
ZAK the people found out from patch first that their jobs where gone? no one from the board of education told their union this was passed or had plans to meet with their employees to tell them in person where they where at with or without jobs. could you post an answer on this THANK YOU.
Zak Koeske April 02, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I will definitely be following up this week, Lenny.
LENNY April 02, 2012 at 08:51 PM
thank you that would be great.
Tommy P April 03, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Yes
Tommy P April 03, 2012 at 02:49 AM
I vote for Stewie!
Anon Omus April 04, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Those idiots from Aramark made a huge mess and cost a ton of money in problems. Last summer At tj, they used a buffer without the pads, and destroyed the floors in several rooms. I have been in the middle schools, they are worse than the high school. The custodians are understaffed at flhs, they have been for over a year. At night there are not nearly as many People as needed. Our. Custodians also repair the schools, as well as mentor our students, as well as setting up for events, and volunteering there own time and money to assist the students have a better school . If there were the proper number of custodians, and equipment was given to them by maintenance (who bought thousands in brand new equipment for Aramark from BOE funds) , you would be able to eat off the floors at the schools. Blame administration and the head of Maintenance for not making sure that they get basic cleaning supples like trash bags and bleach on a regular basis. This mess will cost the schools dearly in the long run. These people don't maintain schools, just clean. There English is terrible. Whoever said they are good for FL is crazy and should be fired immediately. If you want to save costs, fire the company doing temperature regulation and don't have the schools so hot. There is a ton of money being wasted because of all the heat. Windows are open all the time at flhs because it is so hot in there
Anon Omus April 04, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Our custodial staff are some of the most friendly and caring people I have ever met
Rose April 05, 2012 at 11:31 AM
When they knew A couple of Sundays ago I was walking in front of a FL school when I saw a group of men leaving the school. I joked with them saying that it looked like a Custodian’s Convention. They told me that they were working on getting a contract with the Board because they have gotten talks underway between the Board of Ed and the Custodians and it appeared that they were operating in good faith and they seemed pleased. I know many of the custodians having children in the school system. They had been working without a contract for this past year. It was not until the Board of Education meeting that the FAIR LAWN PATCH reported that many custodian positions would be outsourced. Friends and relatives reading the Patch that morning called the custodians giving them their condolences. Only, NONE of them knew of this Phase 2 that would eliminate many of their positions. Can’t even imagine that. It has also been mentioned that if the economy did not get better next year, Phase 3 would remove all present custodians from our Fair Lawn schools and use the outsourcing firm (ARAMARK) entirely!! Why are the School Board members some of whom are teachers in other districts voting against the employment of fellow NEA members?
Rose April 05, 2012 at 11:33 AM
On another note, don’t most job applications ask about criminal histories? Well, the ARAMARK job application “did”, and also indicated that indication of any prior criminal history did not necessarily rule one out for a job. I saw this on a Website complaining about their services. ARAMARK’s latest job application has been altered. Now they do not include the question of addressing past criminal records at all! So, we could have felons in our schools!
Chris Antonelli April 05, 2012 at 12:41 PM
I know how they feel. I've been working without a contract for 10..... no, wait, 15........ Ummmm, maybe...... Oh, that's right, never. Still unclear what unions do for you. I don't have a union and I still have a job.
LENNY April 05, 2012 at 03:23 PM
thank you Rose for the information sounds like our board can be put in the same class of people who in DEC. 1941 where having a meeting in washigton dc to work out problems between their country and the untied states while their fleet was on the way to attack our fleet on DEC 7 1941. REAL CLASS ACT BY OUR BOARD AND LEADERSHIP. and to this day no one has been told sorry we had to cut your way to feed and support your family.
Jbj April 22, 2012 at 10:59 PM
I guess doctors goal should be to heal others for the rewards as well
Jbj April 22, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Children are not a part of the business world
Jbj April 22, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Thomas Paine...when was the last time you entered a classroom?
Jbj April 22, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Yes...who wants these people near our children? And who is. Heckling every time these is a custodian out and a sub comes in?

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