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Guest Column
Victor Lafaman

Your Turn Guest Column Victor Lafaman It’s crisis time for Monroe schools

Guest Column
Victor Lafaman
It’s crisis time for Monroe schools

Schools in Monroe Township have reached a crisis. On April 15 we will vote on a budget, which if not approved, could likely result in cuts by our mayor and Township Council, particularly since this is an election year.

Never mind that the mayor has al­ready trimmed $1 million from the mu­nicipal budget, resulting in a smaller tax burden to our townspeople. There will be pressure for further savings from those who do not support education. Therefore, our officials may be inclined to continue dressing that election window. A 1-penny cut to the education budget will result in a half-million dollars stolen from the children’s educational needs. The result could be reduction to staff, thereby increasing class sizes or causing elimination of clubs, sports, technology or even textbooks. So a strong yes vote turnout for the kids is paramount.

Many of Monroe’s newer homeown­ers have been baited into moving to the township because of its reportedly out­standing schools. I doubt that these homeowners were advised of the epi­demic overcrowding, or that a referen­dum to build a new school designed to alleviate the overcrowding was slammed down by people of Monroe who oppose education spending.

Last year alone, 400 new students joined our schools. These new home­owners now paying a half-million dollars or more for their homes and upwards of $10,000 in yearly taxes will send their children to classrooms approaching 30-plus students. The classrooms will soon spill over into trailers parked outside our schools because our legal capacity for space has been overrun. And still, we do not have a plan for a new school to address the problem.

This letter will be one way I attempt to incite people to act sensibly and re­sponsibly. It addresses our new families, our parents, education administrators, town officials and our seniors, who all need to work together to provide for Monroe’s youth.

Some others and I have created a task force whose primary goals are to in­form the parents of Monroe about the problems in our schools, to achieve in­creased voter registration and to create awareness of the need to vote. There are hundreds of us doing our part. But make no mistake — we are not nearly enough. Every parent of every child in every neighborhood needs to register and vote for your child’s benefit.

The anti-education spending contin­gent in Monroe is very large. We need total support to help your kids. We need to think of creative ways to make room for our newcomers without shortchang­ing our existing townspeople.

Every year our town sets aside nearly $400,000 of our tax dollars to purchase open space in Monroe. This is public in­formation. Currently Monroe holds ap­proximately 2,000 acres of open space in inventory. Some of this space is adja­cent to our current high school. This is also public information. If our township were to donate the 80 acres of land needed to build our new high school, we would save millions and millions of dol­lars on our next referendum. Your tax dollars were used to buy it, so let’s use it to help us all. If we were able to get the land across from the high school, we would save even more by not having to duplicate as many sports fields.

Builders often gift open space land to our township in exchange for density swaps. The receipt of these parcels of land could go to pay back the township for the land it donates for the new high school, thereby replacing what is used. This would significantly help defray the costs associated with the new school (which no one in his or her right mind can deny we need) up for vote this December. The need is there, and the building won’t stop. No one can argue this.

So let us all work together and figure out ways to provide for our future. Contact your town officials and demand a land donation. Get yourselves regis­tered and out to vote. Contact the Board of Education and find out how you can help. I can be reached by e-mail at, and I am listed in the telephone book if you would like to help on the task force.

Victor Lafaman is a resident of Monroe.