Three steps to fix New Jersey schools (Opinion)
After a spirited discussion on the morning show about the absurd policy regarding school lunches in Cherry Hill, one caller asked me what I would do to fix school funding and spending. It's simple. Doesn't mean it would be easy. We need a Trump-like Governor with the guts to take on the special interests.
Step one: renegotiate health benefits and pension with the NJEA.
The Governor has the power to shut funding down with a line item veto, problem is we haven't had a Governor with the guts to use it for real reform. Some estimates show towns in NJ could save more than a billion dollars just by changing the health plans. This idea was championed by former NJ State Senator Jen Back several years ago. Now Senate President Steve Sweeney is pretending he's on board, trying to take credit for an idea that clearly wasn't his. Plus, Sweeney is part of the Trenton insiders who have been lining the pockets of special interest for decades all on your dime.
If we reduce the cost coming in, and save between 2-3 billion over a couple years, we can then fully fund the pensions of those who have already retired, who right now are in danger of losing benefits as the states fiscal crisis worsens.
Step Two: Consolidate administrations, not school districts.
CEOS making several hundred thousand dollars a year oversee companies with hundreds of employees. We can empower small district high school principles and consolidate the administrative tasks to eliminate millions in spending. I would create a spending formula to offer state funding for those schools that were able to cut administrative costs by 20%. Incentivize cost cutting, not spending!
Step Three: Create an opportunity for towns and private schools to take students from failing districts.
Empower parents to choose a district and/or school and apply a portion of their school funding taxes to that education. We need a state charter system and allow for parents to take a direct tax credit if they choose to send their kids to a charter school. Parents choosing a better education for their kids should not have to pay twice.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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