M’TOWN SEEKS $400K MORE IN CUTS

scharfenberger-hed1By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

After agreeing with the board of education to cut $1.6 million from the district’s failed school budget, Middletown’s township committee Monday night unanimously approved an additional $400,000 in reductions, bringing the total trim job to $2.09 million, says Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger (right).

The recommended cuts include eliminating a vice principal at each of the two high schools, a business administrator and a director position, as well as reductions to health insurance costs. No teacher positions are included in the resolution, Scharfenberger says.

However, the school board, even if it accepts the recommended expense reduction, can make the cuts where it chooses.

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M’TOWN GOES ONLINE FOR BOE BUDGET INPUT

mtwon-screenshotMiddletown’s website offers a link to submit comments and suggestions on cuts to the schools budget. (click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

So you’ve got an idea how to trim the Middletown schools budget, but can’t make a municipal meeting. Or you’re nervous about putting your ideas out there in public. Maybe you just don’t want to get out of your pajamas and make a trip to town hall.

The good news is that you can sit tight at the computer desk and still be productive.

Middletown officials, who are in the midst of working with the board of ed on trimming the district’s  voter-rejected budget, are now taking suggestions and ideas online from residents to get a sense how the bottom line can be reduced.

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M’TOWN TEACHERS REJECT FREEZE REQUEST

mtown-workshopMiddletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger discusses the “jousting” between the town and district teachers’ union at Monday night’s committee workshop. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

At the eleventh hour, Middletown’s teachers’ union responded to Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger’s request that teachers accept a one-year wage freeze.

Nope.

Scharfenberger said the Middletown Township Education Association rebuffed his request for the freeze, which he estimates would save about $3 million in the failed $140.3 million education budget.

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M’TOWN SCHOOLS IN ‘INVESTIGATION’ MODE

mtown-boeTwo of the three newly-elected board of ed members, Vincent Brand, left, and Chris Aveta, at Wednesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Middletown Board of Education could staff a detective bureau with all the investigating it’s doing and has ahead.

Investigating was the buzzword from the district Superintendent Karen Bilbao Wednesday night when pushed for details on where and how cuts would be made to the district’s $140.3 million budget, which was rejected by voters last week.

As in, will more teachers have to be laid off? She’s investigating.

Or, will there be redistricting, or school closings, as Bilbao has hinted at before?

“Closing a school or more than one school is one of the areas we said needed to be investigated,” Bilbao said.

“We are investigating a lot of things at this point.”

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M’TOWN MAYOR WANTS TEACHER PAY FREEZE

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With a voter-rejected schools budget now landing in the lap of the Middletown Township Committee for recommended cuts, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger is calling for township teachers to accept a one-year pay freeze, a move he estimates will save the district $3 million.

“That’s pretty significant,” he said. “That would go a long way with saving jobs, with very little effort.”

Scharfenberger, echoing Governor Chris Christie, put out the request on Friday, just days after the school board’s $140.3 million budget was handily defeated and three board incumbents were voted out. Scharfenberger said that was the voters showing support for such action.

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