LTE: Keep school district accountable for spending

Dear Editor:

I only just read the LTE dated March 19, from Deborah Linthorst and Jess Gallow, which took issue with MercerMe’s reporting on the meeting [Municipal Leaders ask School Board for a tax break] that took place between the HVRSD BOE and the Hopewell Township Committee on March 11. I also read the response from you, the Editor and Publisher of MercerMe, which stood by the accuracy of that reporting.

What I found both interesting and disturbing in the Lindhorst / Gallow letter is the part where it’s acknowledged that Hopewell Township taxpayers are regularly overcharged in order to maintain a millions of dollars Surplus Fund to pay for whatever “good ideas” HVRSD might dream up to spend their extra money. Clearly, my perception that the HVRSD is bloated and in dire need of scrutiny and reform is supported by the admission that the school portion of my taxes goes well beyond what is actually needed to run the schools and pay the salaries of the Administrators. I also learned from MercerMe’s reporting on the meeting between the Committee and HVRSD that millions of these surplus dollars are used to fund the debt that the HVRSD has racked up. Given that they have all this surplus money, why are they also so deep in debt – just a rhetorical question. 

When pressured to reduce spending, school systems always take aim at teachers salaries which are well below a proper compensation rate for the time and effort they dedicate yet these are the people who contribute the most to the quality of education students receive. Clearly, there are better places to look in any genuine effort to lessen the tax burden.

My takeaway from all of this is that this kind of public meeting between the Township Committee and HVRSD should take place annually so that the elected representatives of the taxpayers of Hopewell Township can question the proposals HVRSD will be making. This is especially important now that the school systems annual tax increases are shielded from being a ballot question following the Christie Administration’s efforts to reduce New Jersey residents property taxes by reigning in the free spending habits of local school distracts. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Joe Gordon (CFO of my house)
Hopewell Township

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