Tuesday, September 9, 2008

School Talk


With the start of the new school year, the time has come to discuss the Teaneck School District, especially as to how it relates to the orthodox community.
Here are some verified statistics (rounded off):
Spending is 7th highest in the state, over $16,000 per student. (The state median is $12,000).
Teaneck's teacher and administrator salaries are among the highest in the state.
86% of the school budget comes from local property taxes.
More than 60% of the property taxes are paid by the orthodox community, which makes up less than 20% of the population.
The population of Teaneck is 40% black and hispanic, while the school population is 70% black and hispanic. (This is not, G-d forbid, a racist statement, I'm only trying to show that the orthodox do not use the public school system).
Of 1,460 students at Teaneck HS, over 1,000 are black and hispanic, and only 300 are white.
Teaneck High School ranks among the bottom third of high school's in the state.
Of 1,300 students at our two middle schools, only 200 are white.
Of 40,000 residents in Teaneck, 10,000 are under 18.
Only 35% of households have children under 18 years old.
There are nine seats on the Teaneck Board of Education, of which three are up for election every year.
Enough for the statistics.
The question I pose is this: Should the school board be made up entirely of people with students in Teaneck Public Schools, or should other members of the community (such as retirees, the orthodox, those without children, etc.), who are funding the school district with their tax dollars, become members of the board of education? Should there be some sort of "check and balance" system by having non-parents on the school board?
Awaiting your thoughts.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Teaneck and attended private schools my whole life. My parents (although not thrilled)still paid their taxes for a school system neither of their children used. It is just the nature of the beast. Since public education is promised I don't think much can be done. Regardless of who is on the board the children will still need to be educated. I still live in Teaneck and do not have children who utilize the school system and am not sure what if anything can be done.

Anonymous said...

The school board is elected by Teaneck's voters. Anyone can run. Duh.

Out Of Rightfield said...

Yes, anyone can run. Yes, we still have to pay taxes. My query is whether non-parents SHOULD run for the board.
The point is this: If non-parents are on the board, perhaps there will be a "voice" for the non-parent community, who will make every effort to keep the costs DOWN. A kind of "check and balance" system for the school board, and therefore school expenditures. Certainly, school parents on the board would be willing to spend more money on education, especially if 75% of it comes from non-parents.
But there is also something called fiscal responsibility. The statistics show we spend more than most districts and we pay higher salaries, yet our schools are ranked low.
As a parent of day school students who pays Teaneck taxes to support the public schools, shouldn't I have a say? Shouldn't I voice my opinion? Shouldn't I try everything in my power to keep the expenses down to a reasonable level, especially when my tax dollars are being used?

Out Of Rightfield said...

As far as I know, there are no members of the orthodox community on the board of education.

Anonymous said...

I believe there are a number of Board of Ed members who no longer have children in the school system. This would put them into the retired-tax-paying category....

Dr. Henry Pruitt & Margaret Angeli are examples of this. I'm not sure about the rest of the memebers.

Karin said...

I think that people who do not use the system (kids in private school, retired, seniors etc.) should be on the board.
Perhaps with input from outsiders, so to speak, we may actually get the BOE back on track and stop wasting our funds on a mediocre education for a majority of the kids using the system.

Anonymous said...

A portion of funding goes to charter school and sending kids to other districts, are those in the stats?

Out Of Rightfield said...

According to the state department af education, salaries and benefits for the Teaneck school system K-12 (teachers, administrators and support staff) are over $12,000 per student! Outrageous when you consider that $12,000 is the state average for TOTAL cost per student.
I saw that a member of the school board rationalized that we have more teachers with advanced degrees who are worth more money.
I disagree. If they were worth more money, our students should be doing a lot better than they are.
Plus, why do we need to pay teachers with advanced degrees more money? Do you really need a doctorate to teach ninth grade biology?
By the way, according to the state department of education, the cost per student at the charter school is lower than at the regular schools.

Out Of Rightfield said...

Noticed a post on Teaneck Progress by 2008anony:
I was wondering what ever happened in response to the suggestion made by Esther (at least I think it was Eshter) to the BoE that the seek opportunities to provide programming to the entire community.
Well, the people have spoken and the BoE has listened- SAT Prep and its offered to the entire community!
Oh wait, it's taking place between 7.10-8.10am and 3.25-4.25pm - in other words at a time when all day school students are either in transit to their schools (which typically start about 8) or when they are still in classes. Really nice effort at community building.
Here's the actual post from the BofE website:Free SAT Prep Classes Offered at Teaneck High School
As a service to the entire Teaneck community, SAT Prep classes will be offered free of charge at Teaneck High School beginning September 23. Morning classes will take place from 7:10 to 8:10 a.m. Afternoon classes will run from 3:25 to 4:25 p.m. All sessions will be held from Tuesday through Friday. Classes will be offered in Math and Critical Reading/Writing. Students wishing to take both subjects must attend morning and afternoon sessions.
Registration will begin on Wednesday, September 9, in Room 215 at the high school. Teaneck residents who do not attend Teaneck High School are eligible to participate and may register by sending an e-mail to psheppard@teaneckschools.org

Out Of Rightfield said...

So their "service to the entire community" is, pardon the expression, bullsh**.
Just one more reason for the orthodox to get onto the board of education.

Anonymous in Teaneck said...

Where did the data for this "verified statistic" come from:

"More than 60% of the property taxes are paid by the orthodox community, which makes up less than 20% of the population."

Does Teaneck keep track of tax payment by religious affiliation?

Out Of Rightfield said...

That statistic comes from Rabbi Pruzansky's rebuttal to the Peter Apllebome written, Barbara Toffler inspired, New York Times article bashing Teaneck's orthodox community.

Out Of Rightfield said...

The statistic regarding teachers with masters degrees and their higher salaries comes from board of ed member David Diuguid's reply to Rabbi Pruzansky: "The majority of our teachers have master’s degrees and numerous credits beyond master’s degrees; they also have taught for several years in the district. That experience is valued in the classroom, but it comes with a price."

Anonymous said...

Perhaps people who are unhappy here should consider moving.

Here's a suggestion:

Jewish Families Offered $50K to Relocate
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26611433/

Karin said...

So I guess those of us that just pay for this system but dont use it should keep our pie holes shut Annon?

I for one am not Jewish, I am a Teaneck reisdent-tax payer and my kids do not use the public schools that I help fund!

Out Of Rightfield said...

According to state records, we have 39 teachers at Teaneck High School making over $99,000 in salary (not to mention a heck of a benefits package). Who authorized this?
The member of our school board who claims that we must pay these masters degree recipients more money is, I believe, an extremely competent and well known medical doctor at top hospital in Manhattan. He's got to be making half a million dollars a year, so he's all well and good with paying teachers $100K and paying high property taxes. He should not be the one speaking on behalf, and making budget decisions for the residents of this town who are not quite in his stratosphere.

Karin said...

Can someone explain to me why we are paying a THS teacher over 90K per year to just teach GYM?
I mean this is a freaking GYM Teacher not like they are a science/english or math teacher

Karin said...

You can get an eye full here at some of the outrageous salaries the BOE is paying some teachers...
http://php.app.com/edstaff/search.php

himmelhoch said...

"More than 60% of the property taxes are paid by the orthodox community, which makes up less than 20% of the population."

Does Teaneck keep track of tax payment by religious affiliation?

Blogger Out Of Rightfield said...

That statistic comes from Rabbi Pruzansky's rebuttal to the Peter Apllebome written, Barbara Toffler inspired, New York Times article bashing Teaneck's orthodox community.

Where did Rabbi Pruzansky get this extremely self serving statistic for his rebuttal?

Out Of Rightfield said...

Actually, the Rabbi's statistic was 60% of the property taxes and 15% of the community. Since that was a year and a half ago, and the orthodox ranks have, I believe, swelled a bit in the last year, I put the number at 20%.
I take my Rabbi's statistics as the truth. He is (was?) the president of the RCBC, so I'm sure he knows of what he speaks.

Catherine K. said...

Run, Rightfield, run! I'm sure you'll get your racist little self elected. Please run. It would be so fun to watch. Almost as fun as the last town council elections. Go for it.

Out Of Rightfield said...

So Catherine, since I'm in favor of some kind of fiscal responsibility on the board of education, I'm automatically a racist.
I didn't realize what it took to qualify.

Anonymous in Teaneck said...

"That statistic comes from Rabbi Pruzansky's rebuttal to the Peter Apllebome written, Barbara Toffler inspired, New York Times article bashing Teaneck's orthodox community."

Rabbi Pruzansky may have written that, but that doesn't make it a "statistic." It's not data, it's rhetoric. Repeating it over and over doesn't make it true.

Joseph said...

I don't understand much of this discussion. Any resident of Teaneck can run for the Board of Education. So if someone from the Orthodox community (to which I also belong) wants to run, he/she can. But my recollection is that no one has done so. So what's the issue. If someone does, and is opposed because he/she has no children in the public school system, then we can discuss. But now, it's simply pontificating. And, with respect to the statistics; some were actual statistics and some, like R. Pruzansky's unsupported statement, were not. And while some of teh actual statistics are relevant (teacher salaries, cost of education per student) have some relevance to the question of whether our schools are doing a good job, I simply do not understand the relevance of the statistics concerning the racial make-up of the school system. This doesn't make you a rascist, but you are playing into their hands by sticking in these racial statistics where they don't belong.

Out Of Rightfield said...

Okay, let's discard that statistic. The point remains that a relatively large portion of the town's residents do not use the school system, yet pay for it.
That's America. Teaneck, with it's large percentage of private school kids make this town an anomaly. I'd have to figure that there are more people in this town who don't use the schools than in just about other town in America.
The question remains: should these folks be represented on the school board?

Anonymous said...

Can you post average SAT scores for THS over the last generation?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Rabbi Pruzansky Teaneck's version of Rev. Wright who a number of years ago proposed that the West Englewood section of Teaneck withdraw from Teaneck and start their own town so they would not have to pay school and/or property taxes? I stopped going to his synagogue years ago when he would get up, point and scream at people by name who disagreed with him. Isn't one of the worst things you can do in Jewish Law is embarrass someone publically rabbi? I don't care if Pruzansky used to be a criminal lawyer, He's more of an embarrassment to the religious Jewish community than those that return from living in Israel whom Out of Rightfield seems to think should not be acknowledged as people who want to work for the community they live in (Teaneck).

I wouldn't trust anything that Pruzansky said at face value. He is sooooo egotistical and self serving! I want to see TRUE statistics!!

Out Of Rightfield said...

Here are some pertinent average teacher salary comparisons (from http://www.anateisenberg.com/content/article.html?id=56975##0 Table)
Teaneck: $73,897
Tenafly: $44,528
Closter: $48,809
Demarest: $32,797
Englewood: $43,783
Leonia: $29,320
Fort Lee: $39,548
Does anybody besides me see that something is very screwed up in Teaneck?

2008anony said...

Actually what is really screwed up is the numbers on the website you linked to. Teaneck definitely outspends almost all neighboring districts in teacher compensation, the real numbers are bad enough. However, any discussion on this subject must be grounded in accurate and current information, not the first thing Google turns up.

Tom Abbott said...

The statistics quoted by "out of rightfield" come from Anat Eisenberg's Sotheby's International Realty Site.

It is difficult to ascertain where the numbers came from but they don't appear to be accurate. In addition to the $73,897 number for Teacher's salaries it also lists Teaneck's spending per student at $9,768.

I have not checked any of the other "verified statistics" this blogger posted but actual statistics are available of the NJ Department of Education Data page. The 2008 Comparative Spending Guide lists the Teaneck median teacher's salary at $66,900 for the 2007-2008 school year and the comparative cost per student at $16,087.

Tom Abbott said...

Joseph said...
Any resident of Teaneck can run for the Board of Education. So if someone from the Orthodox community (to which I also belong) wants to run, he/she can. But my recollection is that no one has done so.

Three members of the Orthodox community did run in the 2003 BofE election. They lost.

Anonymous said...

"Three members of the Orthodox community did run in the 2003 BofE election. They lost."

Of course they did! Anyone who runs for any office knowing NOTHING about the office or how the office is run and comes in with an attitude of "vote for me because I'm Orthodox" will lose. People are not as stupid as some of these guys think.

Anonymous said...

Paying for a school system you don't use is the same as allowing private property to come off the tax rolls for religious use when you are an atheist! Put that in your pipe.

Teaneck has more religiosly inspired tax exempts than any town in BCounty.

Out Of Rightfield said...

Using the site Tom refers to, we see Teaneck outspending all other large school districts in the county (3500+ students) by between$3000 and $4000 per student, while ranking lowest in the county (and 97th out of 104 large districts statewide, falling from 89th to 97the in the past year).
Using these numbers we see the 7th top ranked large school district in the state spends under $10,000 per student, while the 8th lowest ranked large school district (that's us) spends over $16,000 per student.
It's time for a change.

Out Of Rightfield said...

Tom fails to mention that the election in 2003 was held on the day before Erev Pesach when a large segment of the orthodox community (like me) was out of town, on their way out of town or a little bit busy doing holiday related cleaning and things.

Rob said...

Out of Rightfield, why do you live in Teaneck? You don't like it here. Let's review your blog posts so far:

- In your opinion, there are too many Jews in Teaneck who are not "modern"

- You disapprove of people who have relocated to Teaneck from Israel

- You are unhappy funding the education of Teaneck's non-white children

Seriously, move. I don't know where you will find a place where everyone is exactly like you but Teaneck is certainly not that place.

Anonymous said...

That statistic comes from Rabbi Pruzansky's rebuttal to the Peter Apllebome written, Barbara Toffler inspired, New York Times article bashing Teaneck's orthodox community.

Rabbi Pruzansky pulled the "More than 60% of the property taxes are paid by the orthodox community, which makes up less than 20% of the population" straight out of his ass. Even he has been unable to explain how he came up with this statistic. At least he has found one person willing to push his right wing agenda.

2008anony said...

Out of Rightfield

& you fail to mention that in the 2003 elections the Teaneck Cares slate ran a farce of a campaign - repeatedly failing to show up at voter forums, appealing almost exclusively to the Orthodox community, and focusing almost exclusively on cutting spending without even attempting to address the quality of education beyond some talking points.

Not only did they deservedly lose, but in the process they discredited and seriously hurt the future prospects for BoE candidates from the Orthodox community.

esther said...

People with children who attend the public schools would be more than willing to entertain the possibility of orthodox BOE members as long as the individuals could demonstrate a committment to high quality public education.

All this demogogery and divisive talk only makes the prospect of electing an orthodox BOE member less likely as it draws a philisophical bright line between communities that I don't think exists in reality.

Karin said...

Can we agree that we do not need to over spend to get a quality education for ALL children in the system?

I think that is what we are all upset about is the blatant squandering of funds.

2008anony said...

Esther

Oh that it was so. Before the Teaneck Cares slate effectively buried themselves they were attacked strongly for not having (and never having had) children in the Taneck school system. I found this especially interesting since the much admired Suprintendent at hat time seemed to able to run the District while living in NY and having no prior cotacts with Teanech, while overseeing the Superintendent seemed to requirer prior use of the schools.

The reality is that any Orthodox candidate will have overcome a prejudice that the only reason they are running is to cut the budget. I don't think that prejudice is necessarily fair, but I can certainly understand the concern on the part of parent (who presumably are the most likely to come out to vote).

Anonymous said...

It is doubtful anyone Orthodox, no matter how experienced and expert in educational matters will ever be elected in Teaneck. Possibly if the election were moved away from the Passover holiday period (when even the Orthodox base a worthy candidate would try to build upon is too pre-occupied to vote)there might be a fair chance of electing strong candidates.

But as it stands now in Teaneck things will remain as they have been.

Anonymous said...

Rob, thank you for your question. Those were my thoughts exactly.

I think that Out Of Rightfield will be unhappy whereever he/she lives unless he/she were the dictator in charge. Out of Rightfield likes to complain. Probably has no power in his/her personal live; marriage or job.

Anonymous said...

Karin too.

What Lola Wants said...

Nah, Karin seems truly concerned and does praise the community when praise is due. Let's be fair.

Karin said...

Thanks "what lola wants"...

Anonymous said...

More than 60% of the property taxes are paid by the orthodox community, which makes up less than 20% of the population.

Lets say that there are 10,000 taxpayers in Teaneck and $100,000,000 in taxes. The average taxpayer would pay $10,000.

In Pruzanskyland, the 2,000 orthodox taxpayers would pay $60,000,000 of the taxes so they would average of $30,000 per family. The 8,000 non-orthodox would pay the other $40,000,000 or about $5,000 a family.

These numbers are rough guesses but they can't be too far off and they don't even have commercial taxes included. If Pruzansky and his koolaid drinkers think that the average orthodox person pays 6 times as much tax as the average non-jew they have really drunk the potion.

Zev Mo said...

@2008anony

Good point.

Zev Mo said...

It's nice to know that we are a good old #208 on the list of "Best Places To Live ". Quite an accolade?

(http://njmonthly.com/articles/best_of/best-places-to-live---201-300.html)

Anonymous said...

I'm an orthodox jew who is very interested in how Teaneck runs it's school system. I don't use the system for my kids, but as a public school educated person, I am not in favor of this whole vouture system I hear people talking about. I think that if we chose to send our kids to private schools, we have to pay for both. That's just the way it is. I would love to run for the BOE, but I know that I wouldn't get in for various reasons...

1. Non jews wouldn't vote for me because I am an orthodox jew (unless maybe I posted my resume without my name).

2. Jews wouldn't vote for me because I am in favor of public school education. You'd have to be a moron not to be. After all, even though many of us like to pretend we live in a separate world, we don't! And it's best for all of us if everyone gets a good education.