To the Editor:
For readers of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Times, I would like to correct erroneous reporting that was published in last Thursday’s edition. In the front page article titled, “Voters to Decide School Budgets, BOE Races WF, SPF and MS,” writer Paul Peyton reported that Fanwood residents would see a hike of $151 for the average assessed home in the borough. This is incorrect.
The “hike” that Mr. Peyton referenced is actually a reduction of $151 for Fanwood residents.
Our district has contacted the Times to point out this misstatement. They have acknowledged this error stating “it was changed somehow during final copy editing.” While they regret this error, the correction will not be printed until after tomorrow’s election. As I contemplated how such an obvious error could take place, the only explanation I could come up with is the fact that this reduction equates to (-2.3 percent) and is contrary to the increases that are happening throughout the county.
Our school district has recently received information from the acting Executive County Superintendent showing 2011-2012 budget figures for all districts in Union County. While some districts are showing minimal tax increases, almost half are showing tax levy increases to the state maximum of 2 percent. These maximum tax increases include three of the four communities that border ours.
While the budget data we have received is minimal, what is included shows that our school district is spending the least per pupil of all K-12 school districts in Union County. Additionally, we have the lowest administrative costs per pupil of all districts in the county. Finally, Scotch Plains-Fanwood is one of three county districts that are showing an overall decrease in their tax levy. The three districts are New Providence (-0.02 percent), Rahway (-0.60 percent) and SPF (-0.69 percent).
Unfortunately, as a regional district supported by two communities, the percent of support is determined by a state formula that calculates equalized valuation of both our communities. Based on this formula, Scotch Plains has gained more value this past year relative to Fanwood. Because of this calculation, Scotch Plains will not be seeing a decrease. Their proposed increase will be $64.
I encourage all members of our communities to review our budget. Both a video and a PowerPoint presentation are linked to our district website, www.spfk12.org. If you should have any questions, I can be reached at email@example.com or you can call our budget hotline 908-889-9665.
Polls are open 2 to 9 p.m., and I encourage you to exercise your right to vote.
President, SPF Board of Education