June 3, 2011
Letter to the Editor
Home News Tribune
Yesterday the Home News Tribune published an excellent letter by Mark Klein of Monroe concerning the school funding issue. Mr. Klein posed an interesting question. How much money does it take to provide a through and efficient education for the 31 Abbott school districts and specifically, Newark? Historically the Education Law Center (ELC) in Newark, which is partially funded by the Newark Board of Education, has sued the state for more funding since whatever level that they currently have is insufficient for a ?thorough and efficient? education. The state has always lost in court and has been required to provide more funding to the Abbots at the expense of the 550 non-Abbott districts. Whatever level the Abbots receive is never enough, so they start the process over again-sue, win, and spend. However in all of this the education of the schoolchildren never really takes place. This insidious system has been in place for the past 35 years, with no end in sight.
I think that it is time for a change. The required funding levels are determined by the ELC and outside experts. Let the ELC and the experts determine the magic number that they will require per student for the ?thorough and efficient education? that the state constitution requires. Once this number is determined then the employees of the Abbott Board of Education (Newark-7,253 employees) will pool their assets, including real estate and pensions, into a performance bond. If the Abbot Board of Education defaults on its responsibilities to provide the required through and efficient education, then the state can cash in the bond as a way of? reimbursing the state?s taxpayers for the inability of the Abbott board to meet its responsibilities.
Performance bonds are routinely used by the public sector to ensure that contractors meet their contractual obligations. If the contractor defaults, the bond is cashed in and is used to pay a new contractor to finish the work. This would be forcing the public sector to follow procedures that it imposes on the private sector. When the 7,253 employees of the Newark Board of Education determine that their assets and wealth are on the line, then they may actually begin to produce the educated young people that the ?thorough and efficient? clause of the state constitution requires.
Harold V. Kane