May 25, 2016
By now I’m sure you have read the May 24, 2016 letter from Dr. Del Rossi with regard to the upcoming Town Council vote. It is impossible to minimize the impact that this one vote by town council members could have on our students, staff, administration, and educational mission.
All of us remember the devastating 2010 budget cuts handed down from Trenton. We all witnessed our district lose multiple staff positions including cuts to physical education, music,art, and technology, as well as the elimination of our band program. Since those massive budget cuts, the goal of our district has been to rebuild those programs that are so vital to ensuring a well-rounded education for our children. For the past four years, New Jersey law has allowed both school districts AND town council committees to bypass a public vote on their budgets, as long as the proposed budgets were limited to an increase of 2% or less. Over these same four years of responsible budgeting, our Medford School Board has worked diligently to return the essential programs and personnel that were eliminated. Now in the 2015-2016 school year, Medford Schools are whole again and have even been able to implement full day kindergarten.
What all of our Association members need to know is that with one vote by the five-member Town Council, everything we have recovered could be lost. On Wednesday, June 1, as mentioned in Dr. Del Rossi’s letter, Medford Town Council will hold a special meeting for public discussion on whether or not to move the annual school election back to April. If Council votes to return to an April election, Medford citizens would again have the choice to pass our budget or vote it down. However, if the budget is defeated, Town Council would then have the sole right to change the budget in any way it sees fit. It is important to remember that the citizens of Medford have already elected individuals whose mandate is to manage our schools…our School Board. On the other hand, the five-member Town Council was elected and charged with running our municipality. Medford Township Schools have always had a reputation for excellence and even over the past six years, our dedication to our students and our mission of providing the highest quality education has not wavered.
Here are the facts we are currently faced with. Our Town Council is made up of five members. Two members are firmly committed to moving the election back to April, originally wanting to make this move without ANY input from the public. In fact, one of the Council members has said repeatedly that he sees absolutely no return on the tax dollars that go to the schools. That leaves three members that we have the opportunity to influence. If we fail to come together to show our concern, our silence and absence will send the message that our schools and students are not worth standing up for. We need to have as many teachers as we can attend this meeting. We have ONE night to make our voices heard and that night is Wednesday, June 1. The Medford HSA has already been contacted by our Board of Education and its leadership is reaching out to all our parents as well. In fact, several spoke eloquently and effectively at the May 17 meeting.
As the leadership of our Medford Education Association, the Executive Board asks that you make this event an absolute priority. We will NOT get a second chance to demonstrate our concern and every parent, teacher, and staff member who attends will send an unmistakable message of the importance of education in the town of Medford.
We urge you to attend the June 1, 2016 Council Meeting.
Medford Municipal Building – 7PM
The MEA Executive Board