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: lauriegood@mac.com

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vote YES on the school budget

Guess what I just found out? Or, I should say, guess what I just confirmed? As long as I tell you that it's my personal opinion, I can tell you, encourage you, and urge you to vote YES on the school budget next Tuesday 4/21.

I had been led to believe that Board members were not allowed to advocate for or against the budget. That's not exactly true. The BOARD may not advocate. And the District may not advocate (meaning no spending of district money and that includes salary, so employees may not advocate during the work day). But as an individual? I can have all the same opinions I've always had, and for which this Blog exists (in part).

So my personal opinion, not speaking for the Board and being completely accurate in my facts, is that you need to vote "yes." Looking for a few reasons why?

Laurie’s 10 Personal Opinion Reasons to Vote Yes on the School Budget on April 21:

1. This budget is lean. We’ve already sliced and diced and reduced with a scalpel. We cut $2.5 million in spending. Cuts have been made throughout the district. No one area is being targeted.

2. This budget maintains the number of sections at the elementary schools, which means we avoided cutting sections and raising class sizes.

3. We have maintained as much opportunity as possible for our students, especially at the high school. For example, instead of cutting complete sports, or cutting freshman sports, we cut some assistant coaches. It may not be the ideal way to run athletics, but it’s better than losing entire sports (in my opinion).

4. Ridgewood spends below the state average (for districts of 3,500+) per pupil. Click here to compare. We are efficient.

5. Ridgewood has way fewer administrators per pupil than the state average for districts of 3,500+ students. Click here to compare. Again, we are efficient.

6. The Business Office is being reorganized, resulting in a net loss of one position and a more efficient day-to-day operation.

7. If the budget is defeated, all the current cuts will remain, plus we will likely have to find additional cuts, depending on the tax rate set by the Village Council. This is not a threat. It’s reality.

8. There is nothing else “up our sleeve” to cut. If the budget is defeated, and we must cut more, it will absolutely be in areas you and your students will notice.

9. The proposed budget was approved by the Executive County Superintendent, which means it meets all the new state regulations, restrictions, efficiency rules, etc.

10. Better schools = higher property values. And we need higher property values.


Anonymous said...

In your personal opinion, what happens if the budget is defeated? What is the process in this possible outcome?

Laurie said...

Here are the facts (not opinion!) about what happens in the event of a defeated budget:

If the budget is defeated, it goes to the Village Council. The Council decides what our tax levy amount will be. They can lower the tax levy, they can leave it the same. (Theoretically they can raise it.) The assumption is that the Council would lower the tax levy (after all, they are elected and they need to show taxpayers they are responsive to calls for property tax relief). The Council will also make suggestions as to which lines in the budget should be cut. The school district does not have to follow their suggestions for what to cut, but we would have to reduce the tax levy amount and, therefore, reduce our budget.

Keep in mind, if the council were to cut a couple of hundred thousand dollars from the tax levy, it would only reduce new individual tax bills about $5 per year on the average assessed home value, but that cut would definitely be felt in the schools.

Understand: Defeating the budget does not mean your taxes won't go up. They are going up. They are going up because the cost of educating our children is going up.

What will be cut if the budget is defeated and the Council imposes further cuts?

As I said in my previous post, we didn't hold back any ideas for cuts waiting "up our sleeve" as Plan B. The cuts we already made represent Plans B, C and D. Those cuts will remain, PLUS further cuts will most likely (in my opinion) be: eliminating sections at the elementary level, thereby eliminating teaching staff and raising class sizes. There's really just no place left to go.