Baroni backs Cranbury during Tuesday’s talk

Assemblyman talks school consolidation and state aid at town hall meeting.

By: Matthew Kirdahy
   Republican Assemblyman Bill Baroni came to town to talk with residents about Cranbury being on the receiving end of some new state funds and possibly a new consolidation policy.
   The first time Mr. Baroni came to Cranbury after campaigning door-to-door last fall, was in January to talk to residents about Gov. James McGreevey’s consolidation of school services proposal. He was in town hall again Tuesday to talk more about why he continues to oppose the issue.
   "I support incentives for school districts trying to save money," Mr. Baroni said. "But the state should not blame towns like Cranbury for the tax increases without any data or any support. This was a trial balloon and the reaction was universally negative because you cannot ask districts to consolidate sources based on the number of buildings."
   On Jan. 13, the governor proposed consolidating services in schools with municipal government so less tax dollars are spent on administrative costs and more are spent in the classroom. The governor singled out the 172 one-school districts.
   The Cranbury Board of Education has taken a wait-and-see attitude.
   Meanwhile, Mr. Baroni has developed the Web site as an outlet for residents to get in touch with government and the issues that affect Cranbury. Mr. Baroni says these are necessary precautions.
   "I know Cranbury is concerned about not being the poster child," he said. "I’ve had people tell me that I’m just grandstanding, but I’m not. I believe it won’t really happen if we make sure it won’t happen. If you want to make a policy, you make it on data."
   Mr. Baroni said hundreds of people have visited the Web site.
   Mr. Baroni also expressed his feelings on the governor’s budget proposal to spend more money on schools statewide.
   "I was very encouraged and concerned by the governor’s proposal," Mr. Baroni said.
   At his budget address Tuesday, the governor proposed to increase school aid by $200 million — $100 million going to the Abbott districts and $100 million going to the non-Abbot districts.
   "For the past two years the formula for state funding has not fully funded schools like the Cranbury School," Mr. Baroni said.
   The governor’s state aid proposal means Cranbury School could see 3 percent more in state aid than it has in the past three years. If the state spending plan is approved, Cranbury would get $648,732 up $18,895.