Posting Will Be Light This Week…June 30, 2009
Mulshine the Ethicist: Corzine and Non-Operating DistrictsJuly 4, 2009
Question: Why would Corzine sign a bill right now to mandate closure of non-operating school districts? His attention to our overabundance of school districts is admirable, but why would he choose to antagonize residents of non-ops 5 months before an election?
Most likely, these 25 school districts with nary a school will see property taxes rise since they’ve been paying per child instead of being lumped in together with the receiving districts’ taxpayers. Famous example: Tavistock in Camden County, which has 20 residents in 7 households, one child among them, and a combined school tax bill of $14,805 to send the kid to Haddonfield. Fair? Not really – in a perfectly ethical world a tiny township’s school taxes should educate more than the single student who lives within Tavistock’s 0.2 square miles. But get rid of that non-op and you’re going to end with 7 dramatically higher tax bills and 7 unhappy households.
Why now? Is Corzine trying to get a tangible instance of school reform on the books so that Christie can’t claim that his opponent’s been ineffectual at reducing the educational infrastructure that makes New Jersey’s cost per pupil the highest in the country? Is Corzine so confident of his victory in November that he’s craftily laying the groundwork for March 2010 when the Executive County Superintendents turn in their required plans for school district consolidation? After all, each town nominated for consolidation has veto power, so the odds are slim to none that any of the consolidation proposals will go through; maybe Corzine doesn’t want to give the ECS’s the ability to claim victory based on elimination of non-ops. Is he politically daft? Does he have a death wish? Is he so determined to stifle municipal madness, so convinced of his righteousness, that he’s willing to cede electoral support to Christie?