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Voters Narrowly Approve School Budget

Another budget victory, but by slimmer margin than previous

Voters approved a growing school tax levy by 473 votes, with 52 percent of voters in the four towns that make up the Toms River Regional School District voting yes to the school budget.

The unofficial results:

  • Yes: 5,754 votes, or 52.14 percent
  • No 5,281 votes, or 47.86 percent
  • Total: 11,035 votes

It was a narrow victory for the Toms River Regional budget, which requires $131 million in taxes and a 3.3 cent tax rate increase for Toms River residents.

The $200.49 million budget passed in spite of a tax increase of 3.6 percent, in a year when districts were mandated to grow by 2 percent or less. Business Administrator Bill Doering said the budget was allowed to fall outside the 2 percent cap because pension costs were excluded from that rule, and pensions grew by 27 percent over last year.

Superintendent Frank Roselli pointed out in his budget presentation that the district still had a low per-pupil cost and that the ratio of administrators to pupil spending was also low compared to the state average.

It was also approved amid a tarnished image for the district, after the October resignation of former superintendent Michael Ritacco, charged with bribery and wire fraud.

Candidate Alex Pavliv said he was somewhat disappointed the budget passed, because he believes there is very unnecessary spending in the budget, in the form of inflated professional contracts.

Other candidates, however, said they felt the budget was the result of hard work to do what’s best for students.

"I am absolutely delighted that the budget passed," said candidate Mary Ann Bagaec. "At the very least the new board can move forward with this new budget," she added. If the budget failed, it would be in the hand of the township council to amend.

Linda Garvey, current Board of Education president, said getting the budget to pass is often the most nerve-racking part of the election.

“In my 18 years, we’ve had the budget fail maybe twice,” she said. “We’ve been very lucky.”

Other places, she said, haven’t been. Barnegat Schools District, where Garvey works, often finds its residents vote down its school budget, she said (Barnetat voters approved the budget this year). Last year was particularly hard to have budgets pass in towns across the state, Garvey said, adding that Toms River’s passed by less than 1,000 votes.

Of the 15,501 votes cast on the budget question, 52.6 percent, or 8,179, voted yes last year, according to the county clerk’s archive.

Robert Bressman April 30, 2011 at 02:24 PM
Ritacco, didn't take anything from the School budget, he got kick backs! Where do you think the commission to pay Gartland came from? How about 15 years @ $20,000 a year tax free annuity, how about 15 years @ $15,000 a year tax free annuity for the assistant supers and that still continues today, how about over $2000 a month for food for the BOE charged to the 144 cafe? How about $80,000 to the women running the cafe, how about that rediculous pay for Tammi Millar, like we need a spokesperson for the school, Roselli second in command under Ritacco, he took care of the daycare at 1144 he could have been the spokesperson, do you think Roselli was over worked? We pay IT people to to repair commuters for the BOE in their homes, they have school computers in their homes is that necessary? We have teachers that can't spell and unqualified to teach but because they were friends of the administration they got jobs, talk about taking away from the innocent. How much did we pay in legal fees to the law firm that allowed Ritacco to make such outrageous financial deals, how about all the money spent on trying to stop a $50,000 payment to a kid that was bullied for over two years and nothing was done to stop it, in the end we paid and then paid to have the kid bused to a school in Red Bank and paid his tuition. There is enough waste, that there would be no reason to pass a budget for this district. . Lando Griffin should go back and read two SCI investigations, maybe that would help
riverfest April 30, 2011 at 05:42 PM
by the way - the state commission of investigation issued a scathing report on ritacco and the administrative dealings in toms river - years before all this criminal activity came to light - nothing was done to change things giving ritacco the green light to continue his theft and theft of services. our esteemed governor - who by last count has cost us close to a billion - yes a billion dollars thru his incompetence - appointed ritacco to his education transition team - after a fund raiser at ritacco's f.b.i. raided home. attending the fundraiser? all the top school administrators - board attorney's - professional - and political hacks and board of ed members !!!! one of the first things christie tries to do after elected is to eliminate the state commission of in vestigation !!!!!!!! you can't make this stuff up !!!! wake up toms river and ocean county - demand the resignations of all the sitting b.o.e. members - and a stern review of roselli's backround and promotion.
Mr. ? April 30, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Good stuff here, but getting off point! But dont stop! So how did the budget get passed? Intimidation through the parents and children and teachers? Coercion maybe? Got to fit the sports parents in there big time with intimidation and coercion. And then there is electioneering, hmmm. Remember that sign when you went in to vote? And only a question about those 700 absentee ballots or were they request forms...was that fair and appropriate? The definition of electioneering is.....see below as I dont want to exceed the 250 words
Mr. ? May 01, 2011 at 01:16 PM
See asterisks. ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms Noun 1. electioneerin - persuasion of voters in a political campaign canvassing, bell ringing persuasion, suasion - the act of persuading ***** (or attempting to persuade); communication intended to induce belief or action 2. electioneering - the campaign of a candidate to be elected campaigning, candidacy, candidature, political campaign whistle-stop tour - a tour by a candidate as part of a political campaign in which a series of small towns are visited; "in 1948 Truman crossed the country several times on his whistle-stop tours" crusade, campaign, cause, drive, effort, movement - **** a series of actions advancing a principle or tending toward a particular end Ethically deficient, but legal?
lalamama May 01, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Just wondering..... is anyone a teacher here? a new teacher, an old teacher? is anyone a student? old? current? has anyone been in a classroom recently? does anyone honestly KNOW, KNOW what's happening in classrooms and to teachers? ps. toms river regional schools is one of THE BEST distrists in this state, according to test scores. TRY to put TR Schools against against ANY private school. Our kids run circles around the children who are educated in the private sector. Not being snotty, but that's a fact. pps. just becase tax payers vote yes for the budget, doesn't mean they were intimitated, coerced or that there was some behind the scenes deal. ppps. lots of people don't have money. things are really tight everywhere. but, honestly everyone is stressing about the lesser issue. concentrate on finding out where your money is going--not passing the budget DOES hurt the kids and hits the classroom. To what extent? We need to find that out. Maybe it's not all making it to the classroom, i.e.- teacher's salaries, activities, classroom supplies. Maybe it is making it to the classroom and Administration needs to stop granting themselves increases when the teachers and aids haven't seen a raise in 2 years--a raise that comes with rising union dues (which the NJEA takes money-whether you join or not...) and normal ecomomic expensives. I am just a tax payer who sees all.
Mr. ? May 01, 2011 at 02:51 PM
First you need to look up the definitions of intimidation and coercion. Next you need to realize the budget only passed by 500 or so votes. If you add into that equation a possibility of 700 absentee ballots, letters sent home by sports organizations, and face book and other methods by the PTA and PTO, I must believe this election was influenced and does not represent all the taxpayers in a fair representation. Believe me, I am also a taxpayer with children in our schools who sees all and way too much. "ps. toms river regional schools is one of THE BEST distrists in this state, according to test scores. TRY to put TR Schools against against ANY private school. Our kids run circles around the children who are educated in the private sector. Not being snotty, but that's a fact." Would you please provide those facts?
Mr. ? May 01, 2011 at 03:07 PM
"We need to find that out. Maybe it's not all making it to the classroom, i.e.- teacher's salaries, activities, classroom supplies. Maybe it is making it to the classroom and Administration needs to stop granting themselves increases when the teachers and aids haven't seen a raise in 2 years" AGREED! the money does belong with the teachers and in the classroom. And "we" ARE finding that out...where the money is going. Under stand that if the budget had failed it would have gone to the TR Council. Do you think the public/parents would have allowed them to take money away from the children/ teacher side of the budget? Nope! Political suicide. Just maybe "certain" spending would have been scrutinized to produce a more efficient and productive budget....for the kids!
Mr. ? May 01, 2011 at 03:08 PM
...and All the taxpayers
riverfest May 01, 2011 at 04:56 PM
the sports letter that went out was from gilmore flunky and husband of disgraced board of ed member garvey. no way a non-profit group should be sending letters out in support / non support of public entities or elections. but then again gilmore and garvey are lawyers and have always found themselves above the law. no more " perks" for good old boys with board of ed connections. keep your grimey hands out of our pockets !!!!!
Mapleleafnj May 02, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Let's leave the kids out of it. Its about money for teachers, administrators and politicians associated with a multi-billion dollar government entity nationally. When I see my kids at school sitting at those crappy old desks, in a puke colored, un air-conditioned brick room, with dollar store supplies, I get sick when I see my tax bill. It's not the teachers fault either, nor the assistant. I have no problem paying teachers 150k if they deserve it. Problem is, there are far too many that stink and don't deserve 10 bucks to cut grass. Also, do you really need 3 principles in elementary school? That's a joke. The are all pulling down 120k+. Do you really need 6 people in the office? That's a joke. Did all teachers deserve a 5% raise last year? No way only about 20% should have gotten anything. You can go on and on, and find absolutely no economies of scale in any part of the inner workings of any school in any district across the country. Cus if it were about the kids, they should all be carrying around 2k MACBOOKS and have air conditioned rooms.
lalamama May 02, 2011 at 02:03 AM
Mr.?-- all good points. Mapleleaf-- no teacher.... Not a one - received any increase in 2 years. I don't know where you've heard about a 5% increase, but it certainly didn't happen. It's kind of not fair to put teachers in the same category as administration and politicians. They are mostly extremely dedicated to their choice in career- and Very doubtful that people became teachers for the money.
marcy May 02, 2011 at 02:37 AM
Well Said Mapleleaf
Mapleleafnj May 02, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Thanks. But be careful agreeing with someone like me, I am just a dumb idiot who pays taxes and has no clue what I am talking about.
Mapleleafnj May 02, 2011 at 03:36 AM
So they just chose that career cus they love it so so much, and not because it pays well, or you get summers off, or it pays good bennies... Na, that had nothing to do with it. If you really love helping your fellow man or child so much, join the peace Corp, that does not pay crap, but performs miracles. Why is it so difficult for any teacher to admit they are in it for the money and that's why they stay, I could respect that much more then the repeated BS about how it's for the children. Would any of them take a 6% pay cut to make up for the budget shortfall if teaching is so important and it's about the children? Probably not, in fact they be ready to march on Trenton if that were the case. Find a new one, please, I don't think I am the only one who is completely fed up with the for the children garbage. All most of us want is honesty. Look forward to your response, debate is healthy. Mapleleafnj
. May 02, 2011 at 03:37 AM
Enough already!
Mapleleafnj May 02, 2011 at 03:38 AM
And bin laden is dead, hopefully we can all agree, a great thing.
lalamama May 02, 2011 at 12:03 PM
Most teachers work all summer long to support their families. There are no paychecks in the summer. How much do you think teachers make? Or how much teachers just starting off make? When most have student loans of 50-150k to pay back, it's just ridiculous. And I'm not saying anyone is dumb or an idiot. I'm just reading what everyone is saying. There's so much malice and one sided thinking that it's maddening to continue. I agree we need to find where our money is going. Totally agreed. But please, make no mistake. Teaching isn't a 'no-brainer.'. If there are teachers who go into school when they're supposed to... And leave the second they're allowed to----- those are the teachers who need to check themselves. The majority of teachers come in early, stay late, work at home and all weekend-- because they have to. Most of us can come home from work- and be done working. Good teachers work constantly. And without good teachers, kids are effected any way you slice it. And yes, we absolutely can agree that it is incredible that Bin Laden has been killed. God Bless those Navy Seals and our troops!
Mr. ? May 02, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Hey No Name, Not "enough already" ! This town is up in flames! Mapleleafnj is defending against "Then, we can replace you with educated, positive-minded people who aren't trying to "destroy the schools" . So where did you go Lando? A hit and run, aye? A new book is being written, the Soprano Town. This topic needs to continue instead of taking a back seat to new news. The Patch needs a list of topics, a quick reference menu, on their front page. I understand you can pull down their "news" link, but maybe a total more comprehensive list should appear to allow easier access to past topics. Nothing about Patel? Hmmmm.
Red in TR May 03, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Mapleleaf, what you need to actually absorb is an absolute fact that NO teacher in TR Schools last year received ANY pay increase last year or this year! In fact, there was actually a pay DECREASE because of an additional percentage that was taken by the State. If you are going to make accusations and assumptions about why people choose to become a teacher (ie. "because it pays well") then I am sorry that you are misinformed. I am not going to stand up for ALL teachers, but the VAST MAJORITY are excellent and should not be lumped together as people that do not earn their salaries, which by the way, is no where near the county or state average. I chose to become a teacher because I have a passion for education and my subject area and want to instill that passion and pass it on to students of the next generation. Maybe its not the Peace Corps, but I still believe it is a worthwhile endeavor, and I would hope that others feel the same, but I am not so naive to believe that I am going to find any "friends" on here.
lalamama May 03, 2011 at 11:05 AM
Thank you Red! I am not a teacher, but a teacher's wife. I am soo sick and tired of hearing people say that teachers are only in this for the money or because they get the summers off. My husband works tirelessly- on my time, our family's time. He has a full time job lined up for this summer. People do not and will never get that. Happy Teacher's Day Red! Enjoy your summer! (you know, sitting on your buns tanning yourself while you roll in your $$$)
Carol Aller May 03, 2011 at 02:32 PM
I have lived in Toms River since 1972. I was very active in various school activities and clubs and was also a sub secretary for 6 years. I never met more devoted and caring teachers and support staff back then. My sons graduated from H.S. North in 90 and 94 respectively and received a wonderful education. The Toms River School system today is a mere shadow of what it once was and watching the changes throughout the years have been frustrating, at the very least. I no longer see education as the main priority. If it were, our schools would be ranked much higher in the state, as they were in the past. Now we have the former Ritacco center, the bubble, artificial turf...you know....REALLY important stuff, right? The Adminstrative positions have ballooned in unnecessary and unaffordable numbers while the numbers of students have basically stayed the same. We need to start focusing on what's important! People need to get a clue and wake up. This school system have become the money hungry head of Medusa...we need to cut it off!
Greg May 03, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Hey lalamama.... Is it not a fact that the teachers get the choice to either take their salaries in either nine month or 12 month payouts? In the real world and by that I mean the private sector, people work more than 180 days. Anyway you slice it or dice it a teacher only works a half a year. Then look at what the person who works in the private sector has to pay for health insurance if he or she is lucky enough to have a job that provides health insurance. These people also do not have a job that is GUARANTEED until you decide to retire. Most teachers take that retirement at the age of 55. Yes, there are some GOOD teachers out there but, if you take a look at the hiring practices of this district ... In Toms River it is not always necessarily the MOST QUALIFIED that gets the job a lot of it has to do with who you know and who you are related to. And, if the teachers in this district feel that they are getting the "short end" of the stick with this BOE and these administrators then perhaps you should attend a BOE meeting and speak you minds. I mean the real issues not the regurgitation of the NJEA and TREA .
riverfest May 03, 2011 at 03:39 PM
you nailed it. has anyone noticed the level of education in our schools - test scores etc- have diminished over the years? i am a 40 year resident. it is no coincidence since ritacco and his board of ed flunkies started hiring politically connected - family members - board family members - the quality of education has suffered. wake up !!! we are fast tracking gym teachers !!!! all whom are politically connected- we just hired joe arminio's son !!!! until the hard working - honest - non politically connected teachers speak up - you deserve getting s##t on by this board - superintendent - and fellow "teachers/political operatives.
lalamama May 03, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Teachers have the option to have a portion of their paychecks taken out so they have a paycheck during the summer. Nobody is receiving extra paychecks or getting paid during their summers. It is the same exact move that you can do by taking money out of your paycheck and putting it away. Most teachers still have to work full time during the summer to make ends meet. I completely agree that we need to weed out our teachers. But not everyone should be placed in your "bad teacher" category. It is very difficult to get a teaching position anywhere. And don't forget about 5+ years of college plus student teaching. I don't understand how anyone feels they have a right to judge teachers. For example, I wouldn't judge a police officer. I can have your type of thinking and say that because Toms River is a pretty safe town and nothing really happens here, that most officers are obvioulsy overpaid and don't properly earn their paychecks/etc. However, I don't know the first thing about being a police officer. I really don't know what kind of details come with the job. So I would never say that or think that. I'm just greatful that they're here. Just as I think it take a special person to be a teacher. If any of you chose to be a teacher, you would see that. You didn't choose that for yourself. Maybe ask yourself why you didn't want to be a teacher when you grew up. Good luck to everyone. I'm actually glad everyone can have their opinions heard. God Bless.
Red in TR May 03, 2011 at 08:48 PM
It is correct that teachers do have from the middle of June until the end of August off for the summer months, but you need to be aware of two things. Number one: most, not all, but most, have a second job during the summer months to help make ends meet. Number two, teachers do pay for a portion of their health insurance. I am not claiming that they pay for the entire amount of coverage, but please do not sit there and type that they do not pay, because I can show my pay stub to prove that we do! All that it takes is to do just a little research to find out this information, but instead, people insist on typing simply what they hear, or think they hear, and taking it as gospel. Please, I urge all interested to find out the FACTS about teachers and their "lofty" salaries, I would be willing to bet that most people will find that teachers make far less than what they currently think. On a final note, please do not lump all teachers in TR together as politically/family connected, there are lots of bright, young, independant teachers in the district that DID EARN their positions on merit, knowledge, and integrity. PS.... Tenure does not mean you cannot get fired, it simply means that you have due process when questioned for something or removal from your position.... but again, you probably just take for granted and gospel the definition you hear from your Governor or favorite radio personalities rather than look up the information youself.
Mapleleafnj May 03, 2011 at 11:53 PM
Good golly miss Molly, what is in those NJEA coffee mugs? No one is saying all teachers are bad,. there are just too many bad ones, too many admins, and so much bloat the people footing the bill are completely fed up. Lalamamma I wish my kids had you for a teacher. Problem is your union and it's members are part of the political machine created to bilk taxpayers. The role of modern public education is to Scare up the voters to save the children cus they are our future. Well sadly, I am 44 years old, and my kids future is mortgaged to the hilt because of the mountain of debt that looms on them. We spend all this money to help them and all it's doing is burying them. "Oh, but here goes another one of those mean old taxpayers complaining about their tax bill cus the dumbass does not know just how much we need the money to help his children. And the debt, that is just some phony number created by conservatives to debunk government spending. " Replies sound familiar? Cus they are the same tired old spins used by the status quo for so long, they are like flies on #%@$. In the end, it is about my children and their future, and will not sit around and watch the drones destroy it for the sake of their retirement. Mapleleafnj And no, this will not end, it only just begun !
Red in TR May 04, 2011 at 01:44 AM
I hope that this debate does not end, it is actually healthy to debate and have honest conversation. Most everyone is feeling the effects of the current economy regardless of profession. Yes, debt is mounting, not only for private sector workers, but public sector workers as well. Also, public sector workers pay the same taxes that everyone else does, thus no one is exempt. If change is to occur, then lets have actual debate and conversation, not just on this website, but actually during the campaign season, both for the school board and general elections held in November. I am still decades from retirement, but that is not going to stop me from trying to educate people with factual information and more than just "talking head" material. My wife and I have debt to the hilt as well, so you are not alone (she is not a teacher). I am not exempt from property taxes (which I pay), and neither is anyone else that I work with, so please do not make this an "us v. you" debate. You are entitled to your opinion about the tax rate and budget certainly, but please don't blame the teachers for your tax rate hike. Can there be change, absolutely. Should there be change, absolutely. But I have yet to hear, read, or speak to a person that can give a logical, sound plan without blaming the NJEA and TREA for all the problems with the taxes and debt.... btw, Admin are not even members of the union.
Ken G May 04, 2011 at 12:09 PM
Some of what these people are saying is like saying "I want a job that DOESNT PAY". Teachers are in it for money? uhm? duh? ITS A JOB. I'm sure you wouldnt take it to lightly if you got your pay cut, and if you did your probably gonna say "My pay did get cut and thats why I voted down the budget." ITS A JOB. And for those of you who say they aernt doing it right? How does a 50 year old know what goes on in a classroom that only teenagers and the teacher are in? Don't say reports and statisitcs. I woud LOVE if every student intentionally failed a state test then threw off the whole system. MAYBE there are kids who do this (and trust me there are). Also, many act like teachers are millionares when the ones i know make about $50,000 a year. Before you say "Well you don't really know" well neither do you. And before you say "Well I pay my taxes", where does it say on your taxes the name of the teacher and their salary? The best part is, im a student telling everyone what the hell is going on in the schools and nobody seems to be listening to a damn thing i say. So I think the taxpayers should stop saying "Well I DO care about students" because when I try to say how the money is improving schools i get brushed off. So some of you are just as bad as the BOE. For those of you who have listened and have spoken with me and took in my views as a student, Thank you and I appreciate it. You want a waste of money? All the crap ritacco did with North and the expnsions.
Mapleleafnj May 05, 2011 at 02:41 AM
The venting frustration being expressed and maybe taken out on the teachers is a result of a union funded with public money that spends millions supporting political candidates and acts benign as if it is politically neutral. I also mentioned in an earlier post I'd pay teachers 150k and would not bat an eye if they were worth it. I am all for performance based pay, but can honestly admit I lack the intellect on how best to gauge teachers on performance. Test scores and state tests are a joke because they are products of the system I believe is the source of the problem. We could ask the teachers, but again part of the system. Who knows, perhaps we try something completely off the wall like involve Local successful business people with no axe to grind. When I am bashing teachers, its because your union protects the bad ones, and the good ones suffer, and can't say anything about it for fear of alienation. By it's design, how is that good for anyone's children? And ya it is a job, and it would be nice for once to hear teachers collectively say that and that it should be about the pay, and benefits,and summers off. Then we are getting someplace, because then we can pay the good ones what they deserve, dump the ones that stink, and probably save everyone money.
Ken G May 05, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Unfortunatley, there are bad teachers, but what makes them bad teachers is the question. How do we know they are bad? Trust me, there ARE students who will fail no matter how good the teacher is. For example, I have a teacher and I get all As in their class. Yet I have classmates who dont like her. They pull out their cell phones, intentionally fail a test and say "oh well im going for my GED" or "I don't give a F*** about school." The teachers in my school (most of them anyways) try the best they can to help a student pass. THAT should be what matters. The parent at home must be responsible too. It's thanks to the activities and teachers I had in 7th and 8th grade that I decided to turn my school life around. Now i've made the honor roll several times, which I must mention my elementary school principal (who was protected by Ritacco, even AFTER several bullying complaints were launched against her), told me I would never get and I would fail. Your problem is not in the high schools. Their are some bad teachers in the middle schools. BUT elementary is where your problem is.

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