Editor’s Note: The following is the text of a statement made by Gary Novosielski, president of the Fort Lee Education Association (FLEA) to the Monday, Feb. 27, at the BOE's regular business meeting. Novosielski provided the statement to Patch to publish as an Op-Ed piece/letter to the editor:
It was shocking to me to read the quote in a recent Fort Lee Patch article attributed to board president Levine and vice president McCue, jointly stating that "As a result of [Governor Christie’s] initiatives upon taking office, [we’ll] become the beneficiary of additional funding for the Fort Lee School District."
The fact is that even if the governor’s budget were to pass exactly as proposed, Fort Lee would still be lagging far behind where it was when Mr. Christie took office. The two board leaders are quoted as saying, “This funding will allow us to maintain and, in some instances, enhance some of our existing programs and educational resources.”
Really? Will this “enhancement” bring us back to the quality of education we enjoyed before his term began, or will it leave us still suffering from the drastic program cuts, staffing cuts, missing textbooks, overcrowded classrooms and filthy hallways brought about by Christie’s “enhancements” of two years ago, when school aid was slashed by the governor to the tune of almost a billion dollars state-wide?
According to Mr. Levine and Mrs. McCue, “This proposed funding puts the rumor to rest that [Christie] does not value public education.”
Is it a rumor that Christie cut millions from Fort Lee’s budget, then restored only thousands? If a burglar stole a thousand dollars from me, then returned a hundred dollars of my own money, I doubt that I would thank him. Is it a rumor that the cuts to state aid were matched almost dollar-for-dollar by a cut in taxes for millionaires? Is it a rumor that his proposed budget once again includes windfalls for the rich and crumbs for working men and women? Is it a rumor that Christie has capped growth in school spending at 2 percent per year while, over the period since his inauguration, tax payments of the average property owner have risen by over 20 percent? With friends like the governor, who needs enemies?
In that same time period, the Fort Lee Education Association agreed to give-backs, saving the district and its taxpayers over $8 million over the course of our current contract. This dwarfs any rumored enhancements promised by the governor. And unlike the governor’s seeming largess, our contributions came directly from our benefits, not from some other tax source.
I am dismayed that the board would engage in partisan political posturing by endorsing the actions of a governor who in his short time in office has exhibited the most reprehensible of bullying tactics and the most divisive party-line policies and practices of any governor within living memory. It is an insult to the board’s employees, who have contributed so much without a word of thanks, to hear such praise for a governor whose every act has had the effect of dismantling, piece-by-piece, the successful school system we have all worked so hard to preserve.
President - Fort Lee Education Association