In the same letter he sent today to Barbara Keshishian, president of the New Jersey School Board Association, and Marie Bilik, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, Gov. Chris Christie urged education associations and local school boards to adopt a proposal to provide additional state aid to school districts that have enacted year-long salary freezes.
“The additional state aid to those districts that make the right choice and join in the shared sacrifice will ensure that more teachers stay in their jobs, more students will be able to participate in extracurricular activities, and protect educational services. While it is not the easy choice, it is the right choice and it shows we put New Jersey’s children first,” said Christie.
The governor issued his proposal five days in front of the state submission deadline for school budgets.
“Over the last few weeks, school districts and local education associations have made an effort to work together,” Christie wrote in his letter to Keshishian and Bilik. “West Essex, Boonton, Edison, Montclair, Metuchen and Randolph are just a few of the districts the recognize we are confronting extraordinary circumstances and the only way to survive is by uniting in our shared sacrifice. These districts and associations have gone back to the table to find budget solutions that protect education in the classroom and limit property tax increases.
“I know it is not easy to negotiate even a one-year salary freeze,” the governor added. “And while this is not the easy choice, it is the choice that puts New Jersey’s children first. It recognizes that during these difficult economic times, providing our children a quality education is out shared priority.”
Christie’s proposed aid for those school districts that freeze teachers’ salaries would equal the amount of Social Security and Medicare employer payroll taxes people would have paid on the salary increase were a freeze not adopted.
Steve Baker, a spokesman for the NJEA said Christie’s proposal is a bad idea, in part because there a school funding formula already in place, which the governor’s tinkering would violate.
“This would amount to a personal slush fund from the governor,” Baker told PolitickerNJ.com.