You know, I have never been through this budget process before, so I'm not exactly sure how it goes...but I can say this process is where all the surreal, parallel universe aspects of school administration come to life. Some of it makes sense. Some of it doesn't. Some of the practices are due to legal restrictions, and some are based more on tradition or just a general "this is the way we do it." There is a lot of sensitivity to the fact that some budget cuts will result in staff reduction, and there is a real reluctance to discuss potential staff reductions in public, before they are "official." I can't figure out if it's because the potentially-affected staff people will be surprised (I highly doubt it), or it will somehow be disrespectful toward them, or if there's a desire to focus on positions and programs in general so as to avoid discussing personnel and their performance or relative importance. So far I'm thinking D) all of the above. All I know is, the lack of detail or specificity about the proposed budget cuts or additions has done what a lack of detail and specificity always does: created a vacuum. An information vacuum. And when a vacuum exists, any information -- including erroneous info, rumors, misinformation and purposely misleading info -- gets "sucked" into the vortex. So what we have now are people who are upset about cuts and changes and costs which A) aren't even official and B) some aren't even true.
So tomorrow's Board of Ed meeting (7:30 p.m., Ed Center, 3rd Floor or click here for webcast) has only one main agenda item -- the proposed 09/10 budget, which the Board will be asked to approve. Of course there will be time for public comment. Lots of time. What bothers me is that some of that comment will be people coming to protest against things that aren't even true. I know that I'm coming to the meeting with some questions about what the effects of some of the cuts will be. I really, truly, hope that in tomorrow's meeting, we'll all get a more clear picture of what the administration is proposing, and why.
One more thing -- there is a special email address set up for budget comments and questions from the public. firstname.lastname@example.org PLEASE email your comments and questions -- especially questions. You can get an answer right away, clear up any rumors, and get the truth -- so you'll be better informed to decide whether you support or oppose the budget.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: email@example.com