Finance panel believes money is well spent

As we approach the budget season, it is inevitable that there will be letters to the editor in area newspapers throwing about accusations and half-truths about our budgeting practices.

As the members of the Jack-son Board of Education finance committee, we would like to encourage you to come to us if you have any questions or if you hear something that doesn’t make sense. There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there and we want to make sure you know the truth.

For instance, a recent letter accuses us of putting money in the budget for “phantom” students so we can have extra funds for the children.

In March of a given year we may suspect we are going to get a certain number of students. Six months later, in September of the next school year, we may end up getting fewer students. We do not, however, go forward and hire teachers for students we don’t have. We don’t buy books for students who don’t exist and we don’t reserve a classroom seat for a phantom student who will not occupy it. Simply put, the enrollment we estimate in March of a given year has no impact on the amount of funding we receive.

We don’t understand where that idea comes from.

Perhaps the most alarming recent suggestion was the idea that we are not properly handling our surplus each year and that we are not complying with the law. This is an outrageous claim.

Recent law requires all surplus money in excess of 2 percent of the previous year’s budget to be returned to the taxpayers by being appropriated in the proposed budget to reduce the proposed tax levy that the voters must approve in April. We do exactly that. We take the money we might find in surplus at the end of a given year and apply it to tax relief for the following year.

That is the law and we follow it. It’s as simple as that. No double talk. No games.

This letter also claims that if we spent all of our education dollars on our students, we’d be graduating rocket scientists. Well, the truth is that we do spend most of our dollars on our students in order to provide them with a comprehensive, cost-effective education.

We suppose the statement, which was coupled with a complaint that we have too many administrators in town, is meant to infer that we spend too much money on administration?

The state comparative cost per pupil puts our administrative spending as the 15th lowest out of 103 K-12 districts our size. We don’t see that as excessive administrative spending.

Each month at our Board of Education meetings we see top-notch students receive awards. Recently we honored 29 students for earning the Edward J. Blou-stein Scholarship Award, five students for qualifying under the National Merit Scholar program and three students who earned a perfect 800 score on one or more parts of the SAT.

One of our students just might be a rocket scientist, or perhaps a doctor or a nuclear physicist or a teacher. We, personally, will be proud of them no matter what they decide to do for a living because we know they worked hard and took advantage of all that the Jackson School District had to offer.

Marvin Krakower

Barbara Fiero

Marty Spielman

Finance Committee

Board of Education