Vote ‘no’ on Edison school budget April 16

Residents passed the Edison Board of Education (BOE) budget last year in a show of good faith. The hope was that the board would “do the right thing” and be fiscally responsible and fair to students, BOE employees and taxpayers. We gave them a vote of confidence in our “yes” vote.

In my opinion, our confidence was misplaced. The board has failed the residents and the students. The largest part of the increase in the 2013-14 budget — $2.5 million — is allocated for instructional salaries.

The board has repeatedly told residents that school facilities are in need of repair, but despite the decaying condition of school facilities, the 2013-14 budget allocates only $1.2 million in capital outlay to correct this. In other words, the buildings and grounds that our children utilize every day are receiving less than half of the $2.5 million instructional salary increase in this year’s budget. Is this putting the welfare of our students first? This $1.2 million breaks down as follows: $200,000 site improvement projects, $705,000 capital outlay projects for high schools and middle schools, and $295,000 capital outlay projects for elementary schools.

This is only one example of how our tax dollars are not being spent in the most prudent manner to benefit our students. The board could have prioritized its needs and wants — selecting only the most urgent this year, and leaving the rest for another time. This would have allowed more money for needed projects and to partially offset the $75 tax increase. The fact is that the board has absolute control over $35 of the $75 tax increase. They could have spent less and used some of the savings for taxpayer relief or in other ways to directly benefit students. Instead, $2.5 million was used solely for increasing salaries.

Despite my comments above, this board is definitely an improvement over other boards in the recent past. I commend them for making some inroads, but they could have been more fiscally conservative and fair. We can reconsider our vote next year, but this year, I urge residents to consider voting “no” on the budget.

Lois Wolke