Swedesboro-Woolwich School District Budget 2011-2012 FAQ SectionThank you for your interest in the Swedesboro-Woolwich School District's finances, budget process, and development of the proposed 2011-2012 budget.The district is placing special emphasis on an open and frank dialogue with the community regarding these important issues.
Your superintendent of schools, Dr. Victor Valeski, and the members of the Board of Education are pleased to answer your questions. This page will be updated with new information as often as applicable. For questions and answers, please scroll down the page.Please submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgAll questions are posted as received, no editing will take place.
Q. Since the district is cutting the Kindergarten program into half days due to budget cuts, will extended before and after care be provided? If so, what will this cost?
A. The district does not have the capacity to provide before and after school care. We have invited child care providers the opportunity to discuss their services and costs at the Kindergarten Roundup, at the Margaret Clifford School, on March 24, 2011
Q. How much will my taxes go up if the budget passes?
A. If the Budget passes, the average annual tax increase in Woolwich will be $17.93 based on an average assessed home valuation of $179,279.The average annual tax increase in Swedesboro will be $87.89 based on an average assessed home valuation of $186,990.Q. Why do we have so many principals?
A. Swedesboro-Woolwich has three principals for four facilities and one of the lowest administrative costs in the entire state. We currently have:
One principal for the General Charles Harker School, serving 737 students.
One principal for the Governor Charles Stratton School, serving 582 students.
One Principal shared between the Margaret Clifford School and The Walter Hill School serving a combined enrollment of 461 students.
Most schools have an Assistant Principal once enrollment reaches 500 students.
Q. When is the budget vote? Why should I vote?
A. The Budget Vote is April 27, 2011 from 2-9 PM
Polling Locations are:
Borough of Swedesboro: Woolwich Fire Company, Districts 1 and 2
Woolwich Township: Gov. Charles Stratton School, Districts 1, 4 and 5
Kingsway Regional HS, South Gym, Districts 2 and 3
It is important to become informed about the consequences of not passing the Swedesboro-Woolwich Budget. If the budget does not pass 10 instructional positions will be cut and class sizes will approach 34 students in many classes during the 2011-2012 school year.
Q. Will my vote keep full day Kindergarten?
A. No. The decision to move to a half day Kindergarten program was made to manage the budget within the State mandated 2% tax levy cap on assessed property valuations.
We do not have the space or the fiscal resources to hire additional teachers to accommodate the growth we are experiencing. Moving to a half day Kindergarten program gives us the space and allows us to re-assign teachers to grades where growth is severely impacting class sizes for the next school year.
Q. Why are we not sharing services with other districts?
A. We are sharing services with other school districts. We currently share transportation services with Kingsway Regional High School. We eliminated the Curriculum Coordinator administrative and support staff positions and will share a curriculum position with Logan, South Harrison and East Greenwich School Districts beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.
Other areas where we save are agreements or contracts with:
- Joint Purchasing-Copy Paper
Educational Data Services
- Audio Visual Supplies
- Elementary Science Supplies
- Art Supplies
- Office and Computer Supplies
- Classroom Supplies
- Computers and Servers
- Classroom and Office Furniture
- Facility Insurance
- Worker’s Compensation
- District Vehicle Insurance
We are investigating sharing technology and business services with other districts.Q.I read on the superintendent's page on the website that up to 250 new students could be addedto the district by the 2011-2012 school year. How does this number compare to the number ofstudents being promoted from the district to middle school at the end of 2010-2011?A.That enrollment projection accounts for the children leaving us and attending Kingsway Middle School.We have already 82 more students this year than the same time last year.Q.Will the kindergarteners still have the 'special' each day-Gym, library, art and music?A. Yes! Classroom teachers will take the children to the library and art activities will be conducted inclass under the direction of the teacher. Music and gym will be offered outside the classroom.Q. Will you discontinue lunch at Margaret Clifford?A.Yes.Q. First question is why should I vote to pass the budget to save instructional positions that helpother class rooms when it doesn't seem like anyone considered or is concerned about my child'skindergarten classroom?A. Your child’s Kindergarten experience is important to us. The current full day session is a blend ofacademics and socialization. We do not have the financial resources or the physical space toaccommodate the growth we are experiencing. Moving to a half-day Kindergarten program allows us tohave appropriate classroom space for every child and re-assign teachers to keep class sizes near 25students per class (lower in K and 1st Grade). We believe we can offer a very effective half dayKindergarten program that has a strong academic focus. If the budget fails and the local municipalitiesrequest a "zero dollar" school tax increase, 10 teaching positions will be eliminated and class sizes will benear 34 students in 2nd through 6th Grade.Q. Secondly, how is East Greenwich school district able to keep their programs AND lower taxes?What are the differences between our school district and theirs?A.The differences are money, size and growth. East Greenwich generates more money per pupil thanSwedesboro-Woolwich, their total student population is smaller and they are able to manage their growthwith the physical space they have, for next year.Q. Lastly, with this half day program, when are we going to find out whether our child is in the AMor PM session? Waiting until the end of summer is not acceptable considering we now have to findalternate arrangements for our child for the remainder of the day.A.We will let families know as soon as possible which session their child or children are attending so theycan make informed child care decisions. Child care providers have been invited to the KindergartenRoundup at the Clifford School on March 24th.Q. I just wanted to send you an e-mail expressing my concern over the cuts to the kindergartenschool day. While I understand the budget crisis in our ever expanding district, I cannotunderstand why our kindergarten children are having precious education time taken away. Otherschool districts, that are less taxpayer funded, are instituting full day kindergarten programs dueto the fact that full day children were more advanced than those that attended half day programs. Iam positive that this decision was not made lightly by anyone in the district, however I am surethat I am not alone in this concern. We moved to Woolwich primarily for the school system, and wehave been extremely pleased with the education that my older son is receiving. Each and everyteacher that we have had contact with has been fantastic and I want my younger son to have thesame experience. I have researched private kindergarten as an option in order for my youngest sonto receive the full day kindergarten, however with tuition being $1500/mo that not an option formy family and is probably not an option for many families in our district. I am requesting that thisissue be revisited by the school board in attempts to halt the cessation of the full day kindergartenprogram, as families in our community pay substantially toward the education of our children andthey deserve the best that we can provide.
- Electric and Gas
- Special Needs
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
A. Neither the administration nor the BOE came to this decision lightly, especially since three school board members and the Superintendent have pre- Kindergarten aged children. We have fought very hard this year to have the Swedesboro-Woolwich “voice” heard. Our unique situation, as the fastest growing, lowest spending school district in NJ has been recognized throughout all levels of state government.Years of failed budgets, combined with years of flat or reduced state school funding have brought us to what I call the “tipping point”. We do not have any resources to hire additional teachers or rent/purchase temporary classroom space to accommodate the growth we are experiencing. Our only solution, within the 2% budget cap imposed by the state, is to move to a half day Kindergarten. This decision allows us to re-assign teachers and gives us additional classroom space to accommodate growth for the next year. It also allows the district to keep class sizes smaller in Kindergarten and 1st Grade-critical times in your child’s development.We will continue our fight for our fair share of state school funding. Unfortunately, we must make changes until the school funding formula is revised and appropriately funded so Swedesboro-Woolwich receives adequate funding.We have worked very hard to keep the tax impact as small as possible. We are sensitive to the fact that the change in the Kindergarten program impacts many families.With the assistance of our dedicated teaching staff, we also know we can offer a very strong half day Kindergarten program.
Q. Is Full Day Kindergarten really gone, or if this budget passes, will it be re-instated? Or, if the state funding catches up, will we go back to Full Day?
A. Kindergarten will remain half day if the budget passes. This is a change we had to make to get the budget within the 2% tax levy cap and still mange appropriate class sizes because we do not have the resources to hire any new teachers or purchase/rent portable classrooms to accommodate out growth.
Even if the state funding catches up we will be out of classroom space until the state approves and community votes to support a building referendum to construct a new facility to educate our growing student population. Full day Kindergarten would not be an option we could consider until a new facility is built.
Q. Will the technology teachers be rehired?
A. No. The one technology position that was eliminated last year cannot be reinstated in this year’s budget crisis. By re-aligning some of the teaching staff we can enhance technology for all of our students by placing teachers that have strong technology skills within each grade level.
Q. My son (in grade 5)is being taught this subject by his regular teacher. She admits that she does not know much about computers. He has lost a year of education in this subject.If these subject matter expert teachers can not be brought back, why can't the highly paid principals,education specialists, administration & superindendant give up a percentage of their saleries to bring these teachers back? This should have occured last year when these teachers were let go. I was appalled at the greed in this school district and am still very angry about it. Espicially given the fact that our children are not getting what they need. In this economy, we have all had to make some adjustments. These individuals should be embarrased.
A. The administrators, technology and other support staff and maintenance all took voluntary pay freezes last year. The Curriculum Coordinator position was eliminated in this year’s budget and we will be sharing curriculum services with South Harrison, East Greenwich and Logan school districts. Even with the reductions and cuts, the cost of educating all the new students we are enrolling still exceeds the combination of the state aid we receive and the tax levy increase we will receive if our budget passes.
Q. 1/2 day Kindergarten - Will there be bus transportation. If so, will the District consider busing the children to their perspective child care centers for after school care.
A. The district will provide transportation from home to Kindergarten and back home again. A midday bus that would drop off AM Kindergarten students and pick up PM Kindergarten students at local child care centers is under review but not yet approved by the Board of Education.