Home About GSCS What's New Issues School Funding Coming Up
Quick Links
Meeting Schedule
NJ Legislature
Governor's Office
NJ Department of Education
State Board of Education
GSCS Testimonies
GSCS Data & Charts
Contact Us

Email: gscschools@gmail.com
Phone: 609-394-2828 (office)
             732-618-5755 (cell)

Mailing Address:
Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
160 West State Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08608

Search
Twitter

3-1-12 Anti-Bullying, Salary Caps, State Aid in the News
NJ Spotlight - New Wording, New Funding to Keep Anti-Bullying On the Books…Saving a law that many see as critical to education in New Jersey

The Record - NJ acting education chief to review impact of superintendent pay caps “The best I can tell you on the superintendent cap is...you have been heard by me,” Cerf said. “I am not in a position to give you the change or the comfort you want… This is something worthy of a look based on data.”

Star Ledger - Cerf: Christie might revisit superintendent salary cap...But the thrust of Cerf’s address was about raising the quality of education...Notably, Cerf said, the significant achievement gap between low-income and minority students and other students is too wide.

The Record - State aid to schools increases for South Bergen school district

NJ Spotlight - New Wording, New Funding to Keep Anti-Bullying On the Books…Saving a law that many see as critical to education in New Jersey

By John Mooney, March 1, 2012 in Education|Post a Comment

With the clock ticking, the lead sponsor of New Jersey's anti-bullying law said she is close to filing new language -- and finding new money -- that will help the wide-ranging policy pass constitutional muster.

State Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) said she plans to file the new language on Monday, after final conversations with other sponsors, as well as with Gov. Chris Christie's office.

The timing of the changes -- from subtle to substantial -- is critical. The current law could be voided in the next month, following a ruling by the state's Council on Local Mandates that the measure violated a constitutional prohibition against unfunded mandates.

Huttle said yesterday that the changes would include wording in the law's preamble saying that combating bullying in schools is part of the state's constitutional responsibility to provide a "thorough and efficient" system of public education,.

In addition, she said new money would be made available in the budget to help districts meet the needs of the law, a key issue raised in the council's decision on behalf of a small Warren County district -- which balked at paying for anti-bullying personnel out of its own pocket.

The final change would be the creation of a new commission, she said, to provide guidance to districts as they implement the law.

"I hope that's enough, I hope so," Huttle said in an interview yesterday. "I don't want to go back to square one on this."

In addition, Gov. Chris Christie's fiscal 2013 budget includes $158,000 for two anti-bullying specialists in the state Department of Education, a state spokesman confirmed.

The legislature has until March 27 to implement the changes. The council gave it until then before it published its opinion that would rule the existing law null and void. The Assembly's next -- and last -- voting session before then is April 15, meaning it must move quickly if it is to get through the required committees.

"It has to be next week [filing] if we are to do this by the 27th," Huttle said.

The assemblywoman did not rule out further changes after meeting with the governor's counsel this week. "I don't want to put something out there and have the governor veto it," she said.

Still, whether that is enough to satisfy the council’s ruling -- and protect the measure from further challenges -- is not certain.

For instance, while Huttle said money would be made available to districts this year through a Bullying Prevention Fund, she said it would not be a large sum and would not go to every district. She said districts would have to apply after exhausting other options.

She also did not say how much would be in it, only that it would come from "excess" funds in the state education department. She said the new language would also provide tax credits for private contributions to the fund.

The state Department of Education spokesman, Justin Barra, said late yesterday that no money was currently budgeted for anti-bullying. He did confirm the two new department positions proposed in Christie's budget for next year to help coordinate anti-bullying training for districts.

The district challenging the law, Allamuchy Township, maintained before the state council that the law required its schools to spend as much as $20,000 in additional training and staffing.

The law demands every school have an anti-bullying coordinator to serve as the point person for complaints and investigations. It also has strict requirements for how and how quickly complaints are to be investigated

The state's School Boards Association this week completed a survey of local superintendents and business administrators as to what they have spent in staff and programs to meet the law. Spokesman Frank Belluscio said a total dollar figure has yet to be compiled from the respondents, representing at least a third of all districts.

"But one thing they said overwhelmingly was they believe the law should be saved, either with additional funds or reduced requirements," Belluscio said. "Only a very small fraction said he law should expire."

The Record - NJ acting education chief to review impact of superintendent pay caps “The best I can tell you on the superintendent cap is you have been heard, you have been heard by me,” Cerf said. “I am not in a position to give you the change or the comfort you want. … This is something worthy of a look based on data.”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 Last Updated: Wednesday February 29, 2012, 6:17 Pm  By Leslie Brody Staff Writer

State acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said Wednesday he would review the impact of the new superintendent salary caps to see whether districts had lost talent at the top.

Cerf’s comment came as he addressed about 500 superintendents at a meeting of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators at Jackson Liberty High School. During the question-and-answer period, two superintendents won long applause when they said the year-old caps caused a brain drain.

“The best I can tell you on the superintendent cap is you have been heard, you have been heard by me,” Cerf said. “I am not in a position to give you the change or the comfort you want. … This is something worthy of a look based on data.”

William DeFabiis, superintendent in South Hackensack, had warned that because of the caps, there will be people hired as superintendents “that years ago wouldn’t even be considered” for the job. Several chiefs said it was ironic that while the Christie administration was promoting its own agenda for recruiting and developing effective teachers, its cap was making it harder for school boards to hire and keep experienced superintendents.

“I can assure you I will take the matter up in the highest quarters,” Cerf told the crowd. “If it makes you feel any better, I am the subject of a far more dramatic salary cap.” As a cabinet official, the commissioner makes $141,000.

A spokesman for the governor said Wednesday that Christie’s “position on the need for and value of the superintendent salary cap has not changed.”

Governor Christie announced the caps in July 2010, saying that with a few exceptions in big city districts, no superintendent should make base pay topping his $175,000. The caps, based on district enrollment and other factors, officially took effect in February 2011 for new contracts. Christie has said it would save taxpayer money and bring in fresh ideas.

Critics have said it led to an exodus of experienced leaders and some replacements were less qualified. In January, Roy Montesano, the Ramsey chief who was recently named New Jersey’s “superintendent of the year,” cited the caps in his decision to jump to Hastings, N.Y. at the end of this school year. The New Jersey School Boards Association said nearly 29 percent of districts got a new superintendent in the year ending in June, up from 18 percent the year before and the highest turnover in a decade.

Email: brody@northjersey.com

Star Ledger - Cerf: Christie might revisit superintendent salary cap...Notably, Cerf said, the significant achievement gap between low-income and minority students and other students is too wide....But the thrust of Cerf’s address was about raising the quality of education.

Published: Thursday, March 01, 2012, 10:00 AM Updated: Thursday, March 01, 2012, 10:01 AM

By Bob Considine/The Star-LedgerThe Star-Ledger
Acting Education Commissioner Cerf told more than 500 school superintendents yesterday why the state needs sweeping educational changes and more accountability from schools and teachers.

Speaking in Ocean County, Cerf also said Gov. Chris Christie might take another look at the state’s year-old cap on superintendents’ salaries. Several towns have objected to the cap, but Christie was resolute when he established it.

“The best I can tell you is you have been heard by me, and the governor has said he will take a look at this again on the basis of data,” Cerf said after William DeFabiis, superintendent of the South Hackensack district, noted the importance of school chiefs.

But the thrust of Cerf’s address was about raising the quality of education.

“I don’t want to be standing here in five years saying, ‘Wow, that didn’t work,’ ” Cerf said after the 2½-hour assembly at Jackson Liberty High School. “For far too long, we have tolerated what I view as a deeply wrong set of circumstances and we have lived in a comfort zone where we say, ‘Let’s give it more time.’ … When a school is undereducating so many children, we need to look at all of our options.”

Notably, Cerf said, the significant achievement gap between low-income and minority students and other students is too wide. According to New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge 2010-2011 data, economically disadvantaged students score 31 percentage points lower than their peers in Language Arts and 24 percentage points lower in math.

Cerf described those numbers as “nothing short of disheartening.”

The state’s top education official showed equal concern for the number of high school student graduates who aren’t prepared for a secondary education.

Cerf said New Jersey’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards, implemented this school year, will provide a more accurate reading of a student’s knowledge and skills.

Cerf added a new accountability system and the development of seven regional achievement centers that focus on the state’s lowest-performing schools will ultimately strengthen student standing on a national level.

The creation of a teacherevaluation system, which will be fully implemented in 2013-14 , will not include a public performance rating, as some states — including New York — are using.

“We are engaged in a culture shift here and I want teachers to understand that the main thrust of this work is to enable them to be better,” Cerf said. “The more they’d view something that would have a shame factor attached to it, the less willing, I think, they would be to work with us in an effective and fair system.”

Reaction and response from the superintendents was mostly cordial and appreciative, but some voiced their displeasure over economic issues.

Hopatcong School Superintendent Charles Maranzano said the state’s new formula to determine how much schools can spend to educate students left his district with a $1.7 million cut last year and an additional $750,000 cut this year.

“I’m hard-pressed to innovate when we’re struggling just to maintain the status quo,” Maranzano told Cerf.

The Record - State aid to schools increases for South Bergen school district

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 Last updated: Thursday March 1, 2012, 2:02 AM

BY BRIAN ANDERSON STAFF WRITER South Bergenite

 

Aid sent from Trenton to New Jersey’s 556 municipalities and school districts have been released, and while aid to the majority municipalities remains flat from last year’s figures, school funding has increased for each of the six school districts in South Bergen.

For each local district in South Bergen, more money has been allocated in state aid from last year’s figures by at least 10 percent. In the case of one district, almost 35 percent more aid is being sent its way.

Schools

Gov. Chris Christie’s fiscal year 2013 budget has record-level spending for school districts throughout the state. The total amount of state aid to schools is $8.8 billion, which is higher than last year’s figure and the most ever in New Jersey.

"In fact, we propose spending one of every three dollars in this budget on education," Christie said in his budget address. "We are putting our money where our mouth is."

Last year, additional aid funding was passed by the Legislature through the budget process. In 2010, the governor’s budget slashed aid to schools, leaving large holes in school budgets throughout New Jersey.

But the FY 2013 budget increases aid to schools throughout New Jersey. The largest increase locally is in Carlstadt, which will receive $240,026 in aid this year. That aid amount is an increase of $61,998, or 34.8 percent more than last year’s funding level.

Carlstadt Business Administrator Stephen Imperato said the district is pleased with the increased state aid. He said districts use last year’s aid figure to begin crafting the budget—it works when there’s the same amount or more in aid, but a challenge when there’s less.

"You can’t assume anything, but you do try to give a best estimate," Imperato said. "If it’s more, that’s nice."

In 2011, the Carlstadt school district received $178,028 in state aid.

The other district that received more than a 20-percent bump is the Becton Regional school district. The region’s only regional district will receive $346,321 in aid this year, which is an increase of $62,273, or 21.9 percent more than last year’s figure. Becton Regional was allocated $284,048 in state aid last year.

The Lyndhurst district received the largest increase in terms of actual dollars, and will receive $295,695 more than last year. This year, the district has been allocated $1,964,780 in state aid, which is a 17.7-percent increase from last year’s $1,669,085 aid amount.

The next largest aid increase in dollar figures goes to Rutherford’s school district. Last year, the district received $2,112,717 in aid, which is the highest in South Bergen. Rutherford once again is tops in state aid this year, and it will receive $2,398,810, an increase of $286,093, or 13.5 percent.

North Arlington’s school district has been allocated $227,058 more this year, pushing its aid total to $1,746,698. The district received $1,519,640 last year. The $227,058 increase represents 14.9 percent more in state aid.

The East Rutherford school district has been allocated $581,724 this year, which is a 11.2-percent increase from last year’s figure. East Rutherford’s state aid total jumped by $58,421; last year, the district received $523,303 in aid.

Municipalities

State aid is also sent to municipalities, and is used to help offset local property taxes. But in 2012, most municipalities in New Jersey will see the state aid allocation remain flat from last year’s levels.

In South Bergen, all five municipalities will receive the same amount of state aid each did last year; funding was not cut, but did not increase.

East Rutherford receives the most in state aid—$1,489,989—in South Bergen. Lyndhurst and Rutherford follow, at state aid levels of $1,409,340 and $1,384,589, respectively.

North Arlington will receive $1,069,861 this year, and Carlstadt receives the lowest in state aid in South Bergen, with an allocation of $1,031,277.

"It helps. That’s 10 tax points we don’t have to charge our residents," said North Arlington Councilman Richard Hughes, who is the chairman of the finance committee.

Email: andersonb@northjersey.com

Star Ledger - Cerf: Christie might revisit superintendent salary cap...

Notably, Cerf said, the significant achievement gap between low-income and minority students and other students is too wide.

Published: Thursday, March 01, 2012, 10:00 AM Updated: Thursday, March 01, 2012, 10:01 AM By Bob Considine/The Star-Ledger
 

Acting Education Commissioner Cerf told more than 500 school superintendents yesterday why the state needs sweeping educational changes and more accountability from schools and teachers.

Speaking in Ocean County, Cerf also said Gov. Chris Christie might take another look at the state’s year-old cap on superintendents’ salaries. Several towns have objected to the cap, but Christie was resolute when he established it.

“The best I can tell you is you have been heard by me, and the governor has said he will take a look at this again on the basis of data,” Cerf said after William DeFabiis, superintendent of the South Hackensack district, noted the importance of school chiefs.

But the thrust of Cerf’s address was about raising the quality of education.

“I don’t want to be standing here in five years saying, ‘Wow, that didn’t work,’ ” Cerf said after the 2½-hour assembly at Jackson Liberty High School. “For far too long, we have tolerated what I view as a deeply wrong set of circumstances and we have lived in a comfort zone where we say, ‘Let’s give it more time.’ … When a school is undereducating so many children, we need to look at all of our options.”

Notably, Cerf said, the significant achievement gap between low-income and minority students and other students is too wide. According to New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge 2010-2011 data, economically disadvantaged students score 31 percentage points lower than their peers in Language Arts and 24 percentage points lower in math.

Cerf described those numbers as “nothing short of disheartening.”

The state’s top education official showed equal concern for the number of high school student graduates who aren’t prepared for a secondary education.

Cerf said New Jersey’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards, implemented this school year, will provide a more accurate reading of a student’s knowledge and skills.

Cerf added a new accountability system and the development of seven regional achievement centers that focus on the state’s lowest-performing schools will ultimately strengthen student standing on a national level.

The creation of a teacherevaluation system, which will be fully implemented in 2013-14 , will not include a public performance rating, as some states — including New York — are using.

“We are engaged in a culture shift here and I want teachers to understand that the main thrust of this work is to enable them to be better,” Cerf said. “The more they’d view something that would have a shame factor attached to it, the less willing, I think, they would be to work with us in an effective and fair system.”

Reaction and response from the superintendents was mostly cordial and appreciative, but some voiced their displeasure over economic issues.

Hopatcong School Superintendent Charles Maranzano said the state’s new formula to determine how much schools can spend to educate students left his district with a $1.7 million cut last year and an additional $750,000 cut this year.

“I’m hard-pressed to innovate when we’re struggling just to maintain the status quo,” Maranzano told Cerf.

The Record - State aid to schools increases for South Bergen school districts

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 Last updated: Thursday March 1, 2012, 2:02 AM

BY BRIAN ANDERSON

STAFF WRITER

South Bergenite

Aid sent from Trenton to New Jersey’s 556 municipalities and school districts have been released, and while aid to the majority municipalities remains flat from last year’s figures, school funding has increased for each of the six school districts in South Bergen.

For each local district in South Bergen, more money has been allocated in state aid from last year’s figures by at least 10 percent. In the case of one district, almost 35 percent more aid is being sent its way.

Schools

Gov. Chris Christie’s fiscal year 2013 budget has record-level spending for school districts throughout the state. The total amount of state aid to schools is $8.8 billion, which is higher than last year’s figure and the most ever in New Jersey.

"In fact, we propose spending one of every three dollars in this budget on education," Christie said in his budget address. "We are putting our money where our mouth is."

Last year, additional aid funding was passed by the Legislature through the budget process. In 2010, the governor’s budget slashed aid to schools, leaving large holes in school budgets throughout New Jersey.

But the FY 2013 budget increases aid to schools throughout New Jersey. The largest increase locally is in Carlstadt, which will receive $240,026 in aid this year. That aid amount is an increase of $61,998, or 34.8 percent more than last year’s funding level.

Carlstadt Business Administrator Stephen Imperato said the district is pleased with the increased state aid. He said districts use last year’s aid figure to begin crafting the budget—it works when there’s the same amount or more in aid, but a challenge when there’s less.

"You can’t assume anything, but you do try to give a best estimate," Imperato said. "If it’s more, that’s nice."

In 2011, the Carlstadt school district received $178,028 in state aid.

The other district that received more than a 20-percent bump is the Becton Regional school district. The region’s only regional district will receive $346,321 in aid this year, which is an increase of $62,273, or 21.9 percent more than last year’s figure. Becton Regional was allocated $284,048 in state aid last year.

The Lyndhurst district received the largest increase in terms of actual dollars, and will receive $295,695 more than last year. This year, the district has been allocated $1,964,780 in state aid, which is a 17.7-percent increase from last year’s $1,669,085 aid amount.

The next largest aid increase in dollar figures goes to Rutherford’s school district. Last year, the district received $2,112,717 in aid, which is the highest in South Bergen. Rutherford once again is tops in state aid this year, and it will receive $2,398,810, an increase of $286,093, or 13.5 percent.

North Arlington’s school district has been allocated $227,058 more this year, pushing its aid total to $1,746,698. The district received $1,519,640 last year. The $227,058 increase represents 14.9 percent more in state aid.

The East Rutherford school district has been allocated $581,724 this year, which is a 11.2-percent increase from last year’s figure. East Rutherford’s state aid total jumped by $58,421; last year, the district received $523,303 in aid.

Municipalities

State aid is also sent to municipalities, and is used to help offset local property taxes. But in 2012, most municipalities in New Jersey will see the state aid allocation remain flat from last year’s levels.

In South Bergen, all five municipalities will receive the same amount of state aid each did last year; funding was not cut, but did not increase.

East Rutherford receives the most in state aid—$1,489,989—in South Bergen. Lyndhurst and Rutherford follow, at state aid levels of $1,409,340 and $1,384,589, respectively.

North Arlington will receive $1,069,861 this year, and Carlstadt receives the lowest in state aid in South Bergen, with an allocation of $1,031,277.

"It helps. That’s 10 tax points we don’t have to charge our residents," said North Arlington Councilman Richard Hughes, who is the chairman of the finance committee.

Email: andersonb@northjersey.com

 

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828