Alonso explains school crisis

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To the Editor:

As a newly elected School Board trustee who will take office in January, I want to keep the people and taxpayers of Bayonne current on the ongoing budget problems at the Bayonne Board of Education.
On November 30, the state Auditor, Mr. Ells, testified publicly and said the Bayonne Board of Education “Broke the law… that’s why I am here.” The State representative stated that the BBOED made “inappropriate decisions” that resulted in school personnel losing their jobs, in addition to misleading the Bayonne taxpayers with a needless and unjustified tax increase.
The record shows that all 9 people currently on the Board signed, supported and approved the budget in question. Why did they act in such a manner? Why did they give everyone the false impression that the School System was broke?
Apparently, the current School Board was robbing Peter to pay Paul, shuffling money from one area of the budget to another, with the Bayonne taxpayer cast in the role of Peter, targeted as the “Mark”.
The Board of Education always had enough money. They had a surplus, yet they chose to engage in an elaborate game of Three Card Monte with the school treasury at the expense of students, teachers and taxpayers. They could have decided, for instance, to enact Senior Citizen Tax Relief with their largess, freeing our seniors from paying the burdensome school tax, and making life easier for them. They chose not to do the right thing. Instead, they continued to play a shell game with school money for their own benefit.
This is just one indication that things have to change. The State representative said that it is illegal to “build up a pot of Gold at the taxpayers’ expense.” And that is precisely what the School Board was trying to do. Mr. Ells made it clear that the awful decisions of the current School Trustees have altered things for the worst. In 2015, Bayonne paid teachers Retro Pay as part of their contract, but he said that we are “not in the financial position to do it again.”
You can be sure that I will actively monitor this budget crisis and keep all of Bayonne aware of this potentially disastrous situation. You have my word that I am working diligently to unravel the truth about our school system in the interest of the people and the taxpayers of Bayonne.

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MICHAEL ALONSO
Bayonne School Board Trustee Elect