More than 25 cents out of every $1. …

That’s how much spending auditors said was “unnecessary, excessive or lacking documentation” by Abbott school districts.

From our friends at

Actually, that’s more than 25 cents out of every tax dollar.

Now, under normal circumstances, learning that the Plainfield school district tried to justify spending $504 on the private rental of a skating park for 144 students by saying students are learning math because they “will have to judge speed, radius of the ring,” would make us laugh out loud.

But these are not normal circumstances.

These are circumstances where Trenton is all but urging the Turnpike Authority to go ahead and raise the tolls.

These are circumstances where as soon as the governor gets done with the state budget, he’s going to unveil “Son of Toll Hike” and try to ram it through the Legislature.

And these are circumstances that despite almost daily pleading for lawmakers to do something to attack the waste in the state budget, to ferret out abuse, and to reform the pension system, there’s more talk about how they have to raises tolls or the gas tax, then there is to recoup tax dollars.

So reading in the Star Ledger that auditors uncovered $83 million in questionable expenditures in the Abbott school districts was nothing to laugh about.

Not when school districts can be so cavalier with our tax dollars that:
  • The Orange Board of Education spent $3,100 in tax dollars for a Christmas party for teachers and support staff;
  • Irvington spent  $6,421 for a school board retreat in Atlantic City; while another 250 purchase orders in Irvington totaling more than $15.5 million were not supported with invoices;
  • In East Orange, the district spent $10,836 for a superintendent’s convocation; $23,834 for 14 Dell laptop computers for board members, and $753 to cover the cost of 34 cakes — with no explanation as to why the cakes were purchased; and
  • Gloucester City spent $6,000 for meals for teachers and administrators.
Now, individually, these might not be large expenditures.

But taken together, what they add up to is the New Jersey taxpayer’s lament. They add up to the fact that our state suffers from a careless disregard of tax dollars.  New Jersey’s government, on all levels, has either forgotten who is paying the bills – or, worse yet, they simply don’t care.

Not every taxpayer or the company they work for can afford Christmas parties.  Not every taxpayer can afford laptop computers.  Not every taxpayer can afford a retreat in Atlantic City.

And one of the reasons they can’t is because the residents of New Jersey are paying too much in taxes.

And we are paying too much because some school districts and municipalities and counties and state agencies and departments forget that every dollar they spend, is a dollar that comes from a family – they forget that every dollar they spend is a dollar less that their neighbor can spend on themselves.

Instead, we hear how the Pleasantville School District is under investigation by the federal government. The Asbury Park School District is under investigation by the state.

And we learn that more than 25 cents out of every dollar that we send to Abbott school districts were  “unnecessary, excessive or lacking documentation.” That $83 million that the auditors cited could keep the state parks open.  It could keep the Department of Agriculture open.  It could go to bridge or road repair.
And when you add that $83 million to the all the other documented waste out there – like the $1.2 billion in MVC surcharges that the state hasn’t collected or the millions it spends unnecessarily in Medicaid or the millions it has spent on school construction – it is appalling that Trenton has the audacity to tell us they need more of our money, without lifting a finger to recoup all the other money that has been taken from us, that hasn’t been spent wisely or well.

We are not naïve. We know that we have to repair the roads and bridges.  We know that we have to pay down the debt, and pay for schools and hospitals and those who need our help. But we are also not fools.  Until they try to recoup what has been wasted, until they show more concern for the taxpayers who pay the bills than their political pals or the special interests they cater to, it makes no sense to give Trenton more of our money, because they don’t respect or honor what they already have.


Oroho: Abbott Audits Highlight Need to Revisit School Funding Formula

Senator Steve Oroho, a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement regarding published reports that waste, fraud and abuse are rampant in the 31 Special Needs districts:

“I am dismayed by the most-recent reports in the Star-Ledger and Trenton Times that draw attention to wasteful spending in Abbott districts. It is disturbing that some districts cited for waste and abuse will receive increases of as much as 16 percent increase in their state funding under the new formula that was rammed through a lame-duck session of the Legislature.

“These revelations make it clear the Legislature should revisit the school funding formula immediately. A proper formula would be equitable. State funding would always follow the child and be based on the individual child’s needs, not be assigned based on outdated analysis of which districts are most needy. That has only led to out-of-control spending and a lack of accountability that has produced predictably poor results.

“Schools must be held accountable. Aid must get to the classroom. Too often, it’s diverted to the wasteful uses highlighted in the auditor’s report. That will never be acceptable. It’s past time to adopt a fair school funding formula, with safeguards against waste and abuse.

“It is also imperative that we immediately revisit the way we fund our schools because education is a huge component of our state budget. If we are serious about getting our fiscal house in order, the Governor should put school funding back on the table as part of this year’s budget deliberations.”



“Something is clearly wrong here and it is time that the officials responsible for this spending be held accountable.”

By the way – The audits of all 31 Abbott districts can be found right here at
in the finance section. Just for the heck of it, trenton1

Assemblyman David Rible today said earlier this week he was shocked by some of the findings revealed in additional audits of Abbott school districts that were released just one month after an audit of the Union City school district uncovered egregious examples of waste and abuse of tax dollars in that district.

“New Jersey taxpayers send a disproportionate amount of their tax dollars into the 31 Abbott Districts in order to provide a thorough and efficient education for students in those districts,” said Rible, R-Monmouth. “While it has never been demonstrated that the spending in these districts actually results in a better education for students, it has clearly been demonstrated that it results in poor spending decisions and rampant waste and abuse of tax dollars.”

A story in the Sunday edition of the Gloucester County Times reported the findings of a number of audits of Abbott school districts conducted by KPMG LLP in New York. Previously, only the results of the Union City school district audit had been released by the state Department of Education.

Among the findings were that Bridgeton school officials spent more than $10,000 to send staff to conferences, including some in Atlanta, Ohio, Orlando and San Diego, and paid $1,383 to send students to a Double Dutch jump rope competition in South Carolina.

The auditors also discovered that Asbury Park paid $4,280 for golf shirts and jackets for athletic coaches while Gloucester City paid $6,116 for rain jackets for the football team. The Phillipsburg School District used $15,085 to buy banners for their 100th anniversary football game and their 100th game with rival Easton.

Rible noted that in recent years 56 percent of state school aid has gone to the 31 Abbott school districts while the other 580 districts have had to share the remaining 44 percent of that aid.

“We should be doing everything we can to provide a quality education for children in every school district in this state,” Rible said. “But someone will need to explain why school kids in suburban and rural districts have been getting short-changed for the past six years while the Abbott districts can pay for fancy golf shirts and $15,000 football game banners.”

“Something is clearly wrong here and it is time that the officials responsible for this spending be held accountable.”