Something is wrong with this school picture

I urge all residents of Millstone Township to write letters to Assemblymen Mel Cottrell and Joe Malone and to state Sen. Robert Singer asking them to use their influence on behalf of Millstone Township to obtain more school aid funds in order to avoid a potential school budget crisis.

Millstone Township’s K-8 school system is still experiencing explosive enrollment and the number of students that we are sending to Allentown High School is also on a rapid rise. We are the smallest part of our legislators’ constituency and we continually do not get the attention and financial support from the state that we deserve.

The time to make more noise is long overdue. The mail addresses can be obtained from the New Jersey Legislature web site: It is interesting to note that none of the three has an e-mail address.

Although I am not critical of our school budget or that of Allentown High School, I am concerned with the high ratio of fixed cost to variable cost in both budgets. Is there some structural flaw in the way that schools are managed? Perhaps this requires greater examination and exploration of ways to correct it.

The cost of medical benefits was one element mentioned by our school administrators. Perhaps our benefits are too liberal compared to private industry. In an attempt to control costs, the company I worked for instituted a fixed dollar amount for fringe benefits. The employee could choose from an a la carte menu of benefits.

If an employee chose a very liberal medical plan, then the employee contributed any amount that exceeded the amount allocated for health care. What I am saying should not be interpreted as advocating depriving our school staff of health-care benefits.

I am only saying that the reality is that most situations require financial tradeoffs that have to be made. Most employees in my company went from fee-for-service to managed care. They made a financial tradeoff.

Another example from private industry is the increasing use of temporary or contract help instead of permanent employees. This practice allows companies to better manage fixed costs. Contract help can be easily let go when not needed. They receive no fringe benefits which is a big fixed cost. In turn they receive a higher hourly rate, but the employer still saves money because the savings in fringe benefits, social security taxes, etc. is still greater than the rate paid. This practice is done for many professionals. Perhaps it should be done for teaching staff.

Finally, the Allentown High School administration has known for some time that they were going to lose the tuition revenue from Plumsted Township. They should have been taking steps to reduce their fixed costs. Now we are faced with an interesting dilemma.

When enrollment goes up, tuition goes up and our school taxes increase. When enrollment goes down, tuition still goes up and our school taxes increase. Something is wrong with this picture.

Gregory Cinque