Will Brigantine taxpayers see much needed relief anytime soon? ‘Not likely’, says a growing number of concerned citizens. Explosive school district costs will tax relief a non-starter.
Twelve new hires have recently been added to the Brigantine City Hall staff. Over 30 employees make over $100K (not counting OT, Health & Pension). And let’s not forget the golf course give-away and $4 million dollars worth of unfunded liability for employees retirement packages.
It gets worse. An oft forgotten city expense is the Brigantine School District. It makes up 30% of the city budget even though student enrollment has declined precipitously over the last few years.
This all begs the question:
When will Brigantine consolidate it’s two schools?
Brigantine School Superintendent; Brian Pruitt, has been under fire as of late. Well, actually for the last four years.
In 2012, the Brigantine Taxpayers Association wrote a letter to the President of the Board of Education recommending cutting back on Brigantine’s excessive school supervisory personnel.
Do we really need a high paid superintendent, 2 principals and duplicated staffs along with a business administrator for not one, but two schools? Smart consolidation would reduce property taxes while making sure the district can fulfill its duties and educational standards.
In March, 2014, the Taxpayers Association wrote a letter to the Board recommending consolidation of Brigantine schools within the same building.
In April, 2014, Brigantine’s Board of Education passed a motion “authorizing the School Superintendent to conduct a study to determine the effects of the possible realignment of the District Elementary and Middle schools.”
At the 12/2014 school board meeting, the Superintendent Brian Pruitt said the report was “99% complete”.
On July 11, 2015, the BTA wrote to Superintendent Pruitt asking, “Please tell us the date on which you will present your report on school consolidation to the Board for its discussion and decision at a public meeting”.
In August, 2015, Pruitt replied, “As I discussed publicly at the Board of Education meeting, my recommendation based on the study is to keep the administrative structure as it is currently designed. The school consolidation study, however, is still in the analysis stages at the Board level. The planned review date is for 12/17/15.”
The Brigantine School Consolidation study was authorized in April, 2014.
Why the delay? Will copies of the report be available for public review prior to the 12/17/15 meeting?
The BTA then replied with the following request. “The study, authorized by the Board in a public meeting and including (Pruitt’s recommendation) is complete. It’s a public document. In order for the public to be knowledgeable about the study’s findings and your recommendation and able to make informed comments about it at the time of the 12/17/15 meeting, it must have access to the report before that meeting. How will you fulfill that condition? We request a copy of your completed study.”
Mr. Pruitt replied as follows on 10/28/15: “As I discussed at a previous Board of Education meeting as well as in my letter to you in July, the school consolidation study is still in the analysis stage at the Board level. More information is being reviewed and provided to the BOE Committee, and the details of the report will be reviewed at the December BOE meeting. The public will have an opportunity to view the report at that time.”
The Brigantine Taxpayers Association, as well as a majority of residents, disagrees with Mr. Pruitt’s decision about public access. His refusal to keep taxpayers informed on a timely basis is non-transparent and lacks ethical, open government. It doesn’t inspire trust in his judgment.
Why wouldn’t Mr. Pruitt want the public to know his reason for opposing school consolidation? Could Mayor Guenther’s complete control over the school board have something to do with it? Many jobs = many votes?
As taxpayers, we urge you to support Brigantine School consolidation.If not, be prepared for higher taxes and lower homes values in the near future.
Excessive administrative costs don’t improve the quality of education. They waste money and don’t serve a legitimate purpose.