What’s not fair is that children will suffer from aid freeze

On Thursday, Feb. 11, many people across New Jersey tuned in to the radio or television to listen to Gov. Chris Christie address the budget crisis.

Part of his plan to balance the budget was to freeze aid to schools; he instructed every school district in the state to use their surplus funds. Waving his fist and pointing his finger, he boldly and definitively stated that not one teacher would lose his/her job.

Republicans and Democrats alike applauded Christie and his surgically precise budget cuts and laughed at his analogy comparing teachers and their union to a 9-yearold child whining, “That’s not fair.”

Afterwards, the citizens of the state shoveled out of their homes, went back about their lives, and waited to see the change.

Change came to the Spotswood school district on Friday, Feb. 19, now being called “Black Friday,” and for good reason — 59 teachers, secretaries, custodians and supportstaffmembers alike were given preliminary letters stating that, due to budget constraints, their jobs may not be here next school year. There was anger, there was frustration, there was crying, by staff and students alike. But I did not hear anyone say, “That’s not fair.” What I did hear was discussion of where all the children would go without their teachers, discussion of who would clean the classrooms, discussion of who would do the clerical work. There are no answers.

On March 16 the governor will release state-aid figures for schools. There is a projected 15 percent reduction in aid. School districts will lose millions of dollars; taxpayers are at their limit; and the state, under the direction of Chris Christie (who sends his children to private school) has no solutions. He already broke a promise that not one teacher will lose his/her job.

If state aid is cut so deeply, education in Spotswood will change. For example, at Appleby School we currently have 21 homeroom teachers, each with approximately 21 students in the classroom. If the cuts in staff were effective immediately, we would have 15 homeroom teachers with possibly 30 or more students in each class. This comes along with a cut in basic-skills instruction. Our children who need extra help, our most struggling students, will have to manage in a class with 30 other students. The added support will not be there for them anymore. What will become of our children in the 21st century?

Furthermore, academic education will not be the only facet of our schools to suffer. Although no announcements have been made in Spotswood, a cut in athleticswill almost definitely follow. Certainly, the athletics program will survive as a whole; however, in small schools such as ours there has been the opportunity for every child, regardless of talent, to play. Children will be vying for fewer spots; some will not make the cut. Perhaps students will be required to pay to play.

This is the relief that Gov. Christie offers the families of Spotswood. Our children in overpopulated classrooms, our children cut from the opportunity to play ball, our children cut right along with Christie’s cuts.

The Spotswood Board of Education should not be faulted here. The board members have worked handin hand alongside teachers, secretaries, custodians and support staff. They care about the education of our children, which is why they freely dedicate their time, but Christie has given them no choice. And if all Christie’s proposed cuts go through, many of the 59 staff members who were given preliminary letters will not be able to return to Spotswood in September.

Our children will suffer. That’s not fair.

Ron Panico

President Spotswood Education