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TAXPAYERS BEWARE - What You Don’t Know IS Costing You

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Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 56
Location: Medford, NJ

PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mpr370 - thanks for contributing this interesting report. If you read the report, however, it focuses on compensation of school administrators - not teachers. It highlights possible excessive compensation and benefits, and lax oversight by school boards and other government bodies (city councils, for instance). It is a very similar issue to the corporate governance, where corporate boards of directors sometimes fail to keep shareholder interests in mind as they award excessive compensation to officers. In other words, sometimes the folks who are in charge of overseeing the top administrators fail in their fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers. Sure, they want to hire and retain the best Superintendants and principals. But this is no excuse for hiding compensation in the form of lavish, unreported benefits, excessive retirement benefits or deferred compensation.

Most of the abuses cited in this report happened in North Jersey. Camden, Toms River, and Wall Township were also cited.

School boards are elected bodies. Anyone can run for a seat on a school board. Do you know who is on your school boards? Do you attend the public meetings of these boards? Who reports on what transpires at these meetings, and what was agreed to? Do we get the details, or just an executive summary? You and I have no one to blame but ourselves if we don't get involved.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom, thanks for your comments, I appreciate your perspective. Now, just a few retorts. First, I didn’t mean to aim the statements directly at teachers – However, I think some need to be a bit more respectful of the comfortable environment we already provide, when asking for more $$$. I myself, am usually insulted. Frankly, I am in some pain, but generally okay, with putting out the $7800 a yr in taxes (of which much goes to school taxes), but then lie to me about how my money is being spent or ask for more, and we have troubles.

Second, let’s not get lost in details, I think the report, and issues, are bigger than the details. The big issue is School boards and District administration tend to be a bit sneaky with this stuff. Yes, I agree that this is a very similar issue to the corporate world (i.e., “governance, where corporate boards of directors sometimes fail to keep shareholder interests in mind as they award excessive compensation to officers.”). As a matter of fact, the Corp. world is probably worse….BUT, let’s stay on point, we talking about the schools (we can attack business later (ggg)). And schools are absolutely dealing with MY money. I further agree that we want “the best”, but sometimes the best wants too damn much money; And the more you pay, the more you will continue to pay. Like the housing bubble, it spirals out of control. We need to look at the total compensation package and disclosed openly to tax payers.

Next, as far as this abuse being cited in North Jersey – again, let’s not get lost in details – that just happens to be the random targets. And, if you think Medford/Med Lakes/Shamong/etc. is any different, you’re in denial. We just may be a bit more sophisticated about it. I am confident that this is a far reaching and repeated problem across the board in NJ.

On your last point of my awareness, and involvement, with the school board - believe me you - I am all over it. I walk the walk - and talk the talk. However, I amused at your “blame the victim” stance. My involvement is irrelevant, as would be yours. Do you really believe that one (or a just a few) streaming or ranting protestors to this abuse will correct a problem of this nature? Spare me. It doesn’t matter if I know who’s who, or vote, or go to every meeting… THIS IS A CULTURE OF DOING BUSINESS. It’s the way they have done business for a long time. To fix this, we need a huge shake down. Every citizen, every tax payer, big press…….the works.

I’m doing my part, I’m starting the fire, putting out the information to get people asking questions and being skeptical. Why I need you, and others to do, is take it seriously and keep up the momentum - don't just sign the check. And worse, don’t wait for some auditor to find it, after we have been milked dry. Rant over. Thanks.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nowhere do I suggest anything that could be construed as "blame the victim". Posting on is getting involved. Of course, running this site is also a form of getting involved. But if you aren't talking to those who are making the decisions, they might not hear you. I can't promise that school board members, superintendents, or city council members read this forum (although I have heard that one or two do, and the site's traffic statistics tend to suggest that lots of residents check in here).

We can all agree that we want good schools, and that we want great teachers. I think we have excellent schools, and excellent teachers, by and large. We probably also agree that we want our money spent efficiently and effectively... not lavishly or unnecessarily. Right?

One of the solutions to the problem of lax oversight is to shine the light of day on what is going on, for all to see. If administrators can't defend their actions when they disclosed publicly, they will tend to not take those actions. Frankly, the same is true for township council.

The Courier Post has an article today about a bill pending in the NJ legislature aiming to improve oversight of school boards...
Bills would reduce school officials' perks

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

TRENTON (AP) -- Residents would be entitled to more information about the salaries and benefits paid local school chiefs under legislation designed to eliminate hidden job perks that pad officials' pensions and cost taxpayers millions.

The bills, unveiled Tuesday by Republican Assemblymen Bill Baroni, Hamilton Township, Mercer County, and Kevin O'Toole, Cedar Grover, Essex County, come in response to a recent report by the State Commission of Investigation, which found dozens of school officials received job perks that added tens of thousands of dollars to their salaries.

The abuses included clothing allowances, life insurance policies and other perks, the report showed. One of the most common was allowing administrators to cash in unused sick and vacation time each year and at retirement. Some districts added cash stipends in the administrators' final years before retirement to boost their pensions.

One bill would increase oversight and disclosure requirements, including a mandatory Education Department review of all proposed contracts for top school officials. The second bill would limit supplemental compensation, such as the number of accumulated sick and vacation days administrators could cash out or carry over.

Democratic Assemblyman Michael Panter last month said he would introduce measures to enact the SCI's recommended reforms.

Steve Wollmer, a spokesman with the New Jersey Education Association, said the teachers' union supports efforts to curb school system abuses. But, he suggested that some benefits, such as a vacation buyback, may be part of an administrator's negotiated contact.

This might help.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Administrators in the district are overpaid... we moved out of medford because of the ridiculous taxes
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