One of my hometown newspapers – the Roxbury Register – posted an article that talked about how the local town councils were approaching the defeated school budget reconciliation process. Below is the text of the article that deals directly with my hometown, Mount Arlington.
Mount Arlington Mayor Arthur Ondish also confessed to being a bit surprised with the defeat.
“The increase was modest, but I think that what happened is that people were unwilling to accept a budget in which the teachers did not accept a wage freeze, at least for a year,” Ondish said Thursday.
“I think a lot of people are looking at change. People wanted to see teachers take a wage freeze, like they did in some districts,” he said.
Ondish said teachers’ claims that the spending is “for the children” is off base. “I think a lot of people thought the teachers should be a part of the solution to the problem by accepting the wage freeze. In my opinion, we should cut the budget in the exact amount that the wage freeze would have saved,” he said.
“People want to see change, and this is what Governor Christie recommended. He is an agent of change, and I think that is what we need right now,” he said.
“I support our school board. I think they did a commendable job on this budget. It was a good budget, but the teachers did not take the wage freeze,” he said.
Despite that, Ondish said he expects the school board and the Borough Council will work through the process amicably.
Mayor Ondish is correct that people want change and that’s why they voted for Governor Christie. As far as Ondish’s approach to cutting the school budget – “we should cut the budget in the exact amount that the wage freeze would have saved” – I think the Mayor is right on track. For any employee to get a raise of any amount is crazy when inflation was negative over the last twelve months and the private and nonprofit sectors are laying off people left and right. I like the Mount Arlington Public School District (of which I am a product), but the miserable economy has dictated a different course for this budget and I’m looking forward to seeing what Mayor Ondish and his team put together.