Recently the Middletown Township Board of Education held a forum to discuss the potential impacts of cuts in municipal state aid with respect to the upcoming budget. While the board was anticipating a $4.3 million dollar deficit, the reduction in state aid to the district will make that number significantly larger. What I found most troublesome in the board’s proposal is to cut 36 teachers and 18 paraprofessionals from the ranks but only 2 administrators.  Why does it seem that every year around budget time, when there are cuts to be made, the teachers and paraprofessionals are always the group to be targeted for the most cuts when our schools truly have an overabundance of administration?  It is this over administration that cost the taxpayers a huge amount of money in salary and benefits but have no direct contribution to the education of our students. Just to illustrate this point, Middletown currently has seven (7) Assistant Principals in H.S. North and six (6) Assistant Principals in H.S. South. Do we really need 13 Assistant Principles in two (2) high schools on top of the two (2) principles that are also there? I think not. To me, it just demonstrates a complete over abundance & overlapping of administration. Consolidating or eliminating some of these Assistant Principal positions would provide us with a substantial saving and at the same time not have a direct negative impact on the instruction of our students. It’s time that the Members of the Board of Education and Superintendent realize that the status quo is no longer sustainable. We need to get back to the basics of education by keeping more teachers and educators in the classroom and less administrators in their offices.

For another example of financial mismanagement at the current board level look no further than the creation of a full day kindergarten program last year.  With full knowledge that the program would only be funded for one year through Federal stimulus program, the current Board of Education created the program with no viable avenue for future funding.  Let me be perfectly clear; I am not an opponent of full day kindergarten. I certainly understand the value and benefits that the program can bring to young children. However, the board’s decision leaves the district $1.5 million short this year before any of the changes in state aid.  How many of those 54 layoffs that will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the children from first through 12th grades could have been saved for $1.5 million?  The Board’s rationale to educate kindergartners for an extra 3 hours per day puts every child throughout the district in grades 1-12 at a disadvantage by now creating increased class sizes and reducing instructional assistance.  As previously stated, we should be spending more money in the classrooms and less outside the classrooms so that we can continue to deliver the level of education that the parents, children and taxpayers of Middletown so rightfully deserve.

Chris Aveta

Candidate for Middletown Board of Education