Testimony of Robert Kern Curtis, President, Hackensack Education Association, before the Joint Appropriations Committee of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, February 24, 1981.

I am deeply concerned by the proposed budget cuts which call for the elimination of equalized aid to minimum aid school districts. I understand that minimum aid districts are those whose equalized assessed valuation per child is over $156,000.00 and that these districts should have the ability to support education on their own. The situation in Hackensack is, however, quite different from what it is in many other communities.
Extensive cuts have already been made in Hackensack's school budget. Last year alone, twenty positions were eliminated. In order to preserve our much needed educational programs, Hackensack's teachers have foregone salary guide raises commensurate with the increased cost of living each year, for the last nine years. During each of the last three years, these raises have been three to five percent while inflation has been rampant. This represents a real sacrifice on the teachers' part, made in order to preserve both quality education and a healthy tax structure in Hackensack.

A reduction of $836,910.00 in aid will devastate education in the schools of Hackensack and this sum cannot be made up in local taxes. To raise this amount, in addition to the normal inflation increases as restricted by the CAPS, requires that the school tax be raised approximately 20%. Such a tax increase, levied on the residents of Hackensack, would be a crushing burden. Hackensack has always supported education and has provided for all her children. This proposed cut forces her to decrease school programs and faculty to a degree which will lay waste to an excellent and comprehensive system of schools. To absorb this cut requires the elimination of instructors and programs. Approximately 55 positions, or 15% of the faculty and staff, will need to be eliminated.

I appeal to you carefully to consider this proposed cut in school aid. Hackensack holds education her number one priority. We need your help now when we are so threatened.