Campaign News

March 28th:  School budget needs work, says candidate Perry Lin.

I am running for a seat on the school board along with my teammates on the Real Results slate--Liz Markevitch, Kathleen Tucker and John Forsman. For an idea of how we would run the board, look no further than Gov. Chris Christie. In presenting his state budget this month, he charted a new path to fiscal responsibility. It's a path the Hoboken school board desperately needs to follow. He said it's our responsibility to cut spending and end employee-union excesses, to rethink government so it costs less and operates better, and to restore balance to the obligations we take on.

Our opponents, Kids First, have ignored these principles since taking control of the board last year. In fact, they've done just the opposite by adding to our problems. They've suggested no sources of new revenue and no cuts to a spending plan that the state already classifies as “above adequacy.” Just in the last few months, Kids First has added to our obligations with a poorly negotiated custodians' contract that calls for a 10.5 percentage point salary increase. They created a new laptop program but left out the details on how we will pay for it after next year, and they approved a junket for a board member that was so egregious the county superintendent killed it. Two of our opponents, Rose Markle and Irene Sobolov, voted for all three of these items.

Our state aid was cut by $2.4 million for next year, but this represents only 3.9% of the budget. Instead of being caught off-guard, Kids First should have anticipated the cut, given the state economy, and offered ideas for savings to the superintendent and business administrator much earlier in the process. Instead, the administration was left holding the bag with little time and no guidance as to how to make up the shortfall.

Unfortunately, the board is partly making up for the cut with almost $900,000 in one-shot revenues. Some $435,000 of that comes from a textbook-leaseback scheme in which we sell our textbooks to a leasing company and then purchase them back over five years, paying interest along the way. On a small scale, this is similar to the budget tricks during the Roberts administration. The business administrator noted that the district will need to make up a $2 million shortfall in the next budget.

The failure of Kids First has put us in a financially perilous situation, but not one we can't overcome. The Real Results team will act quickly on several fronts. We need to seek new bids for our health-care contracts, examine outsourcing our custodial services, realize savings from reducing the number of illegally enrolled out-of-town students, and make sharp cuts in non-educational departments such as transportation.

It's time for new leadership and real reform. Please support me and the rest of the Real Results team on April 20.