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

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cleaning up the landscape, or "the truth of the changing BOE-Village fields relationship."

Hey, long time no post. Hope your summer is going well. I wanted to clarify and expand on the recent Ridgewood News article that sported a sensational headline, something like “Mean old Ridgewood Board of Ed forces Village to lay-off workers.”

Here are the facts: When the BOE first contracted with the Village to have Village workers perform landscaping and athletic field maintenance on BOE fields, the price was extremely reasonable and we saved a lot of money. But since then, the price has increased and increased. (Never mind the one year they overcharged us by a considerable amount…they did finally rectify that mistake.) Meanwhile, as we faced this year’s budget deficit, our excellent custodial vendor, GCA, wanted to bid landscaping and fields. We alerted the Village that we were going out to bid and fully expected to save several hundred thousand dollars. That’s exactly what happened: the bids from GCA (fields) and Jacobsen (landscaping) were extremely low, and we approved them as our new vendors. How could we not? The Board has a responsibility to save money where we can and get the most and best education possible for our budget and taxpayers’ dollars.

If there were a way for the Village to compete and lower their fees, that would be great. The Village workers provided a great quality of service on BOE properties. But there was no way they would be able to reduce their fees enough. So we had to make the switch. The result is that Jacobsen will do landscaping around the school buildings and GCA will perform all field maintenance and prep (lines, dragging baseball clay, etc.) on BOE athletic fields. The Village will continue to take care of Village fields (Vets, Brookside, Habernickel, Hawes, etc.)

At least one of the Village workers has been hired by GCA. I wish there were a way to work all this out so that no one had to be laid off, but it just wasn’t possible. Unlike the portayal by the Ridgewood News headline and somewhat confusing story, this wasn’t a cold and heartless move by the BOE…we had to make a lot of tough decisions this year. Next year will bring more.


The Gipper said...

Thank you for clarifying this. Too bad this is the way things work now with bidding out jobs. We save money and unfortunately that is the bottom line. Money

Anonymous said...

I see the new grounds crew are doing a bang up job this summer. Not! Good move BoE, you get what you pay for. Crumby pay for shoddy work.

Laurie said...

Would you like to give me more specifics? If there is a location that you feel is not "up to snuff," please let me know. I have heard only positive comments so far.

As a member of the Facilities Committee, I am interested. Please let me know which school, and specifically what the issue is.


Laurie said...

Mr./Ms. Anonymous, I drove by several schools today to check out the landscaping. Somerville looks amazing. Hawes looks good. RHS looks good, albeit did see a few weeds next to the sign on Ridgewood Ave., similar to the fast-growing weeds in all our yards after these rains. I didn't visit every school, but those that I did looked good. Please tell us where you saw evidence of "shoddy work." Thanks!