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Superfluous Spending at the Lacey Board of Ed

Congratulations to the two new Lacey Township School Board members. They have a tough task ahead of them if they hope to accomplish any positive changes for the taxpayers. 

I have been reviewing all the monthly bills since summer 2013. I have located several superfluous items that need to be stricken from the next LTEA contract. So here are a few thoughts and ideas for the new Board members to contemplate.  

In district mileage reimbursement must go. It is a slap in the face to taxpayers to reimburse mileage for employees making over $100K per year.  It’s less than 4 miles to any one building from another. If the job requires the person to go to more than one location, so be it. 

Uniform and clothing reimbursements must go. Anyone making over $50K per year can buy their own uniform/work clothing. If the District wants to a require a uniform shirt for custodians with their names, then let the District issue the shirts instead of checks that the employee can do anything they want with. Also, enforce a dress code if that is what required. I see no defined uniform and I have visited all 6 buildings on different occasions. Clothing allowances for custodians are an antiquated union benefit left over from the days of shoveling coal into furnaces. This is not the case in 2014. This money amounts to thousands of dollars which should be for the teachers for classroom supplies, textbooks, class trips, etc.  

Another item that should be stricken is the coach checks. $150 to each and every coach of any and every team every year. How many jackets and uniforms do they need? Especially if the same people coach the same teams over and over again. This is an expense the taxpayers should not responsible for. And it amounts to thousands. Coaches that are teachers receive a stipend on top of the clothing allowance check. After a while, these clothing checks are like bonuses. A volunteer is a volunteer and there should not be cash compensation at the taxpayer’s expense.  

Last but not least, the benefits contribution proportions MUST be changed. The State minimum is not enough. A larger percentage of payment must be made by the employee…. On a sliding scale of course. And a larger contribution should be made towards family health plans since they are much more expensive than single person plans. Family members who practically get free insurance from the taxpayers are not employees of the District  and should not be given low cost health benefits. They are not school employees. A more logical and cost effective system would be to offer practically free health insurance to the actual employee of the District and then ask the employees to pay for the family insurance plan. The taxpayers should not be liable for individuals who do not work for the school district. Lacey cannot continue in the business as usual format in this town. It has not worked and things must change. The citizens of Lacey are demanding that their tax money be spent prudently. The School Board must remember they are beholden to the taxpayers and not the employees of the District. The sooner the School Board recognizes this fact and who is paying the bills, the better for all of us taxpayers here in Lacey.

Respecfully submitted,

Regina Discenza, Lacey

Fred Smith February 12, 2014 at 07:55 AM
Regina, I know you're busy but you usually respond quickly. So I'll ask again, when you're husband was a teacher what kind of benefits did he receive and what was his contribution, same question for your public employment.
Clementine Snide February 12, 2014 at 08:10 AM
@Fred asks an excellent question. And since you report you were a teacher... Hm. Riddle us that.
grace February 12, 2014 at 11:54 AM
hey @ my darlin clementine..great questions!! hmmm just wondering about regina being arrogant idk or is it passion?
Dennis February 12, 2014 at 12:47 PM
At least she works on it. The only one in a town of 28K +
Clementine Snide February 12, 2014 at 02:39 PM
@Grace... I don't think I said "arrogance", but rather "aggression"... Freudian Slip for you, mayhaps? ;-) Either way, I do not see attacking people as passion. Maybe that's just me, though. It just feels that if it's not "Regina's Way", it's wrong. She really wasn't very nice to @Sara Smile, either. I felt embarrassed just reading the caustic undertones of her superiority. But again, maybe that's just me. Although @Sara seemed to be offended. as well. For a teacher to mock someone's grammar in an open forum speaks volumes of that teacher, IMO. She had no idea if that woman was dyslexic (or other leaning impaired) or even spoke English fluently. Then she added insult to the injury, IMO. And this is NOT the first time we've encountered her "passion". Perhaps we can dub it "mania" and call it a day? ;-)
Regina Discenza February 12, 2014 at 04:40 PM
Call it what you wish but I have been very busy. This forum is not a priority. NYC benefits, while working, if you live in NY and choose the HIP of Greater NY HMO it was FREE way back 30 years ago? Once we left NY ALL plans required a large contribution. The UFT United Federation of Teachers negotiates the health plans and dental and vision plans. I never had public benefits as a teacher - I worked per diem for just a short time. I have a Criminal Justice degree but it didn't pay to work as an investigator. Pay was too low. (this was over 25+ years ago). We are in NJ since 1997 and I have not worked for PAY since 1994 (stay at home Mom). Hope I answered your questions- you can call- I don't have caller ID 693-6454 Homonyms are a pet peeve of mine since grammar school-NUNS- homonyms are something spell check can't fix...yet.
Regina Discenza February 12, 2014 at 04:50 PM
As for the Board office, I was in there, before during and after the renovation. I did not see an additional bathroom put in but rooms were re-arranged.... a closet was converted into a little kitchen (no stove!). And they also did not replace a retiring secty. But next time I am in there, I will ask for a full tour.
grace February 12, 2014 at 05:03 PM
hey my darlin @ clementine you are right about her response to sara! was rude and not necessary...
Fred Smith February 12, 2014 at 05:38 PM
So Regina what your saying is you had FREE benefits paid for by the NY taxpayers and now that you've moved out of NY and are no longer paying state taxes the majority of your benefits as well as your husbands pension are being payed by the taxpayers of NY. Why is this any better than what your accusing the Lacey teachers of. And as far as 30 years ago that's not when your husband retired so your family was receiving free benefits for how many years?
Clementine Snide February 12, 2014 at 05:42 PM
I am very confused. Were you a teacher or not? "Per Diem" sounds like "substitute". A degree in Criminal Justice, while impressive, doesn't qualify one as a teacher, I don't think. Thanks for dispelling, as much as you could, the rumour about the bathroom. Now onto the inference that you have information the public doesn't about why the charges were dropped.
Regina Discenza February 12, 2014 at 05:43 PM
It was meant to help her out Grace. It was not meant to be rude at all. Homonyms are difficult but if you focus on the most common ones, you will eventually learn them. I was trying to help her discern which word meant what. So sorry if you think I was rude. But I think you are ALL rude for remaining anonymous. ALL TALK (online) AND NO ACTION. All I get is questions and rude personal questions at that... but I don't mind. I have notihng to hide. But you all have to hide your identity for whatever the reason. Par for the apathetic Lacey population. I tell it like it is. Always have and always will. I sure hope you people are, at the very least, registered to vote. Dennis got it right.... one person in 28,000 that bothers to attend meetings. Many times I am the ONLY one at several meetings. SAD. As for White Castle, that is a whole separate story. Why don't you OPRA the planning board legal bills? It can be done online. You do not have to go to the office. It's coming soon- all approved. Restuarant will be open 24 hours. The Drive-Up will close from 1AM to 7AM. I asked the APP to do a story.
Clementine Snide February 12, 2014 at 05:50 PM
@grace: Exactly. And I hope Regina actually answers the questions put to her. When people are evasive, it makes them look dodgy. She told Sara she "was a teacher a long time ago", which feels contradicted in her later statement, "I worked per Diem for just a short time" and that her degree is not in Education, but Criminal Justice. I don't know. Maybe I'm just too jaded. But if someone claims to be something (especially as an excuse to belittle another), and it turns out they are not that thing they claim to be... Well, it just speaks to the mettle of which they are made. And if they're willing to lie to prove their point or inflate their ego, well... Do I really have to go on?
Bob Smith February 12, 2014 at 05:56 PM
Lets get this straight peoples... Something must be done!!! Business as usual can not continue and that is it . The sooner the teachers and their Unions recognize this the better off we will all be. Unions are the ruination of this nation at this point. They served a purpose 100 years ago but now they are just a lag on any progress in any way shape or from. I have not problem paying for the teachers individual health insurance. I DO HAVE a big problem paying for their families. The families do not contribute in any way shape or form to the Schools. In fact to put it lightly they are just parasites feeding off the system. People should think twice before they have as many children as they do & what the costs to society are as a whole are. Educating children is expensive. The teachers Union is outrageous with their view that things will continue as Is. As I said. Something must be done!! before they just force us all out of house and home.
Regina Discenza February 12, 2014 at 05:58 PM
Fred- free bennies for a substandard HMO. Only a few years on "free" family plan. We left NY after we had our first son. Also NYC teacher payscale was VERY LOW. I didn't say Lacey teachers were different. On a sliding scale the family plans should cost slightly more than single plans. (It's over 2 decades later!! Times change!) The prices for these current Lacey School District plans I believe are posted somewhere on the schools website. Look around. That guy that formed that Citizens group a few years back asked for it (transparency)...one of the items he asked to have posted was the price of the benefits. You folks need to get off your computers and do some of your own local research. I got my per diem teaching certificate by taking required ED credits. Had a HS social studies license. Yes I subbed but had long term daily assignments. I did not want to teach full time. My children are not old enough to work as teachers...?? Good grief just call me- I'm tired of typing. 693-6454
Bob Smith February 12, 2014 at 06:03 PM
Fred please get a grip. Nothing is free in society we the taxpayers are paying for it and its got to stop. Something must be Done!!
Regina Discenza February 12, 2014 at 06:15 PM
I still have my paycheck stubs to prove I taught. I had to get a per diem city license because I did not have a Masters. FYI any 4 year degree qualifies you to be a sub in NYC with 12 ED credits. NJ has even easier rules to sub. Any 64 credits and you are in the classroom at about $65/day or did the sub pay go up? I never went for State Certification (NY or NJ) because I knew I would never need to work full time as a teacher. It cost a lot of money to get full state certification. For starters, you have to take a 6 credit student teaching course.
Clementine Snide February 12, 2014 at 06:54 PM
Yes, it does cost a lot. It is a huge undertaking in order to be a public servant. It is dedication of heart, soul, time and energy. I do not envy teachers under any conditions. They take on much more responsibility than most people begin to understand. Charged with the welfare of other people's most precious commodities, they are told to educate, parent, discipline, love, respect and guard hundreds of children a day. Children are being taught that teachers are slothful, stupid, selfish and greedy. They openly defy and disrespect their teachers and get rewarded for it. No sir. You couldn't pay me enough to take that crap from parents and kids, and then have politicians, who have never set foot in a classroom as teaching professionals, tell me how to teach. It is a thankless vocation these days.
Clementine Snide February 12, 2014 at 06:59 PM
BTW, Regina, posing as a teacher isn't kosher. It is an insult to those in the profession who've worked their tails off to get where they are and stay engaged.
Regina Discenza February 12, 2014 at 07:06 PM
You are 100% on the money. One time the principal called my husband down to his office to change a grade by like a point so a student could make honor roll (in middle school).... parent complained about the grade. It's terrible when the educators have to give in to parental pressure. It defeats the educational process. I knew then and there I could never deal with parents on a full time basis. Teachers have to have nerves of steel for what some of them go through. NYC was rough! And we were in the 'better' schools.... With technology now, teachers are in a constant learning mode just to keep up with the kids. I could never go back and try and teach with all the new technology. I'm lucky I get my laptop to run. Children are very defiant. I had plenty of it when I was in my local HS in SI. Once I had my son, I was not going back. And luckily I never had to.
grace February 12, 2014 at 07:56 PM
whoa @ regina no need for you to get all in a tiff..i am a fan of yours and actually admire the stands you take and your determination..just saying the way you come off sometimes with sara was a little rude..
grace February 12, 2014 at 07:59 PM
restaurant is not what i call white castle but i am glad its coming to town..lol
Joey Joe February 12, 2014 at 08:35 PM
@grace - so do all the Cardiologists.. Job Security !!! but not for nothin -- they make a pretty good Chocolate Milk Shake too.
Bob Smith February 12, 2014 at 09:16 PM
Clementine. For your information did you know that the bottom 30% of all degreed individuals make up our teachers today? I dont think its doing our children any great service to have the lower ranking graduates teaching our children. They also have nice jobs with nice hours and summers off. They also have tenure, nice pensions, great health insurance etc etc. I dont know any other profession that has tenure where so much dead wood making the highest salaries gets such protections just for showing up. Its disgraceful and something most be done. Teachers should be respected. To be a teacher should be a labor of love. But many go into for all the perks and not to teach our children and give them the best education possible. The world is vile.... Something most be done....
Dennis February 12, 2014 at 10:10 PM
Bob, When people make statements as you made about the bottom 30 % you need to refer to supporting data. Otherwise it's meaningless.
Clementine Snide February 13, 2014 at 02:40 PM
I'm not sure anyone goes into teaching "for the perks". There's not enough pay. Hahahaaa! But here. A couple of things I just want to throw out there. I know you've all heard it before. Teachers in Lacey get an average pay of $52,169, which is $10,000+ LESS than the state average. That said, do some math with me here. Let's pretend you're a middle school teacher. Let's pretend you teach four periods a day, with one duty period and one prep period. Let's pretend you have 20 students per class (which I think everyone will agree would be an underestimate). Let's pretend you have lunch duty with 80 students. That's 160 students a day? for 180 days a year? That averages to $1.81 per student per day. To do EVERYTHING a teacher does. And that prep period? 45 minutes to secure lesson plans, correct tests and homework? HA! That's take-home work for hours. Let's forget teaching to the individual student while still teaching to the standardized tests AND trying to just plain TEACH. But that aside, $1.81 per kid per day... that seems pretty reasonable. Teachers are, IMO, public servants. As such, they are entitled to certain benefits. Should they have to pay for family members to be on their insurance? Perhaps. But since Lacey teachers get a little less than state average, maybe not. Should Tenure be "for life"? No. Nothing like that should be. Should it be on three- or five- years terms? Absolutely. The idea that teachers go into the profession "for the perks" is lame. I'm sorry. The "perks" they go into teaching for are the idealistic dreams that they will inspire young minds to reach farther, to expand, to blossom. Do some get beaten down? Absolutely. Especially now, in an age where teachers are held to impossible standards, where parents expect schools to raise their children, where students are taught that standing up for yourself means being disrespectful, rude and threatening, where a third of your time is spent fighting the fall-out of extraneous social issues. All of the anti-teacher rhetoric really does crawl under my skin. Of course there are some teachers who should have (been) retired a long time ago. But every industry has dinosaurs. And you really shouldn't lump all teachers into that pigeonhole. Work as a teacher for a year or two before you vilify the profession. Thank you for your time in reading this.
Regina Discenza February 13, 2014 at 06:20 PM
Clementine- have you spent any time in the classroom ever? I was first asked to teach CCD when I was 16. The principal asked me into the classroom to play music- guitar. (She knew I played at the Folk Masses.) Before I knew it, I got assigned a class of my own. I did teach CCD for over 10 years in three parishes where I lived. That's volunteering to be in a classroom-no pay. Same duties- different subject. I got my "real" teaching certificate in 1990 because my husband mentioned it....I never gave it a thought till I met him. I took the 12 ed credits- some were special ed courses- and I got my per diem annually renewed NYC HS Social Studies license. I subbed about 4 years. Grammar school, high school and middle school. I preferred my old HS because I knew the staff. They were my teachers (in the 70's) and I worked side by side with the best. They all encouraged me to hang in there and take one of their positions when they retired. By the time there was an opening, I had my son. My career was over and a new door was opened-motherhood. How dare you accuse me of posing as a teacher when I have spent hundreds of hours in classrooms. Many UNPAID. You OWE ME AN APOLOGY. If you want my resume I'd be happy to give it to you.... but you choose to remain anonymous. I will now get busy finishing the sequel to this letter. Bye folks. This letter and my comments are done.
Clementine Snide February 13, 2014 at 07:54 PM
Actually, I "owe" you nothing. You said you had been a teacher, and when push came to shove, you were a substitute (very brave). Am I splitting hairs? Perhaps. I will apologize if I misunderstood your intent, however you need to be careful how you present yourself. 12 ED credits don't equal a teaching degree, which is upwards of 30 ED credits PLUS an internship/student teaching experience, I think. The 12 are a terrific start, to be sure. Teaching CCD is noble, but it's still not being a "teacher" in the implied manner you tossed out. Spending "hundreds of hours in classrooms" makes you a Teacher no more than spending hundreds of hours as a candy-striper makes you a Nurse. Truth be told, I might not have acted as a dog with a bone if you'd not qualified yourself as "teacher". So sorry for riding your ass about it. As for me? I never said I was a teacher. So that is a moot question. And yes, I choose to remain anonymous. Trolling is so much easier that way. HAHAHAHAAAAHAHAAAA! Regina, dear one... your ego was bruised by my attack. And for THAT, I *AM* sorry. You come across as very brusque and very singular minded. Be careful. People WILL attack. And when they do, attacking back may not be the answer. Softening your stance, looking at theirs, using compassion and empathy... those will be the tools you need to "make" people see what you're saying. Not beating them over their heads with your words-words-words-words. Being sanctimonious and holier-than-you-all just turns people away. You're very bright. You have some very good questions and ideas. Brow beating hasn't yielded you what you want. All hard suggestions. But maybe you could at least consider what I'm saying.
Dennis February 14, 2014 at 02:27 PM
Let's keep this from getting personal and stick to the job at hand. No matter what anyone says we pay a lot of money per student,at least to me. When I read how the parents were against outsourcing busing it suddenly dawned on me that they pay only a small portion of that bill , in other words, spending other peoples money.
Leo February 14, 2014 at 03:51 PM
Dennis is right. He's got his. Everyone should work for 8.25 with no benefits no pension and no SS or Medicare. Want to save money? End home Rule
Clementine Snide February 14, 2014 at 05:44 PM
@Dennis: Right you are. I found a Wiki rundown of the district that gave an easy to decipher breakdown of some pertinent financial issues. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacey_Township_School_District). The rankings were what I thought pretty interesting... the rankings run from 1 (lowest) to 106 (highest) for different expenditures. You'll notice Administrative costs rank at 1; Teacher median salary at 4. Everything else sort of falls in the 30's, with the notable exception of Support Services (much of which was downsized under Dr. Brower from what I understand), maintenance (which doesn't seem out of line) and extracurricular costs. When I looked the NJDoE definition of extracurricular costs, I got this, "Indicator 13 - Extracurricular Costs: This indicator includes the amounts associated with board-sponsored athletics and co-curricular activities such as entertainment, publications, clubs, band, and orchestra. It includes the amounts paid to staff to serve as advisors for these activities as well any amounts paid to outside doctors for sports physicals or officials along with any equipment rentals or lease purchases and supplies related to these activities. This would also include any board contributions to cover the deficits of student activity and athletic funds that are not under the district's control." Overall though, it looks like Lacey's costs are consistently in the lower 1/3 of the state ranking, with the two exceptions I cited. Maybe I'm reading that all wrong. I never claimed to be the brightest squirrel in the nest.

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