Sketching Out Blog: Sketches of art, watercolor, photos, recipes, books, interviews, Jewish topics, and Highland Park, New Jersey

Highland Park Education Budget

Highland Park High SchoolWe live in a tiny little borough. You can walk from Cleveland Avenue on the North side to Donaldson Park on the South side in about twenty minutes. We pay a lot of taxes to live here. A lot of those taxes go toward the school budget.

The taxpaying in Highland Park is a little lopsided. Many of the people who own larger homes here, some of whom pay 22K in local taxes, do not send their children to public school. There are two yeshivas in this area, as well as a Solomon Schecter school in East Brunswick. On the South side, there are a lot of rental units and tinier homes (as well as some more large and many medium-size homes). Many renters do send their children to the public schools. Because there are few ratables in this town, businesses that pay property taxes, the bulk of the local taxes must come from the homeowners.

One more note: as the Jewish day schools have limited resources for special needs, many of the frum public students are special needs. This is one more pressure on the budget, as special needs are expensive.

It’s Highland Park School Budget time again, and I got the following in my Yahoo local group: (I edited out the private homes and any names…contact me if you live in Highland Park and need the names).

Please join members of the Board of Education and the Budget Task
Force for discussions to be held at the following:

* Tuesday, March 18, @ 7:30 p.m., Irving School Cafeteria
* Thursday, March 20, @ 7:30 p.m., private home
* Thursday, March 27, @ 7:30 p.m., private home
* Sunday, March 30, @ 4:00 p.m., private home
* Thursday, April 3, @ 7:30 p.m., private home
* Monday, April 7, @ 7:30 p.m., River Ridge, 30 S. Adelaide Avenue
* Wednesday, April 9, @ 7:00 p.m., Reformed Church, 19-21 South Second
Avenue in “the Cave”

Bring your questions!

Board of Education Hearing of Final Budget, March 25, 2008, 7:30 p.m.,
Bartle School cafeteria

Vote on the Budget and School Board Elections will be held April 15, 2008.

Jeff Zajac says

Whether someone chooses to send their children to private schools is irrelevant. Whether voters have children or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is the greater good of the community. A strong school system benefits the entire community, for obvious reasons.

In addition, anyone who is currently paying 22K per year in taxes has built an addition that is too large, as well as ecologically destructive. I have no sympathy for persons paying these taxes, since it is an entirely self-created hardship.

Leora says

Jeff, thanks for participating. First time I got a comment about something local from someone I don't know!

paying 22K per year in taxes has built an addition that is too large,
Actually, in one case one family bought the house as it was. At the time, they had a beautiful organic garden in the front and kept the nature around the house nicely. And have since moved to a smaller house.

I'll let someone else debate the pros and cons of the public school budget. I'm too busy getting ready for Pesach right now. I didn't even take out the time to vote.

Larry Lennhoff says

I voted, but I haven't heard how the election came out. Did you? Google news and straight google aren't helping.

Leora says

I am fairly certain the budget passed, though I can no longer find the link that I remember seeing. It wasn't a large increase (2.5%?), but this is all from memory.

Jeff, the reason it is relevant that many of the taxpayers in Highland Park do not use the school system is that then the borough has a large percentage of residents that are not emotionally invested in the school system. This is hardly ideal for the borough's schools. It is not the ones paying the highest taxes that suffer the most but the ones in the middle, who can barely afford Yeshiva tuition (this is not fancy prep schools to which we are sending our children) and any amount above that in taxes creates an added burden.

An interesting town to compare to our borough is Lakewood. I believe there the public school budget has only passed once in the past seven years.


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