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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Referendum FAQ #3: Wy can't you take care of our facilities with the big budget you already have?

Think about this: the District has 11 buildings. The youngest of them are 43 years old. The oldest school building is 90 years old. I've used this analogy before: If anyone has an old house, you know that things deteriorate over time. In an old house, day in and day out we make the repairs that come up -- a broken window here, a squeaky floorboard there, a small roof leak over there. We absorb these small expenses into our regular budget. Eventually, however, no matter how diligent we are on basic upkeep, the time will come when the old house needs a new roof. I do not personally know any homeowner who can afford to replace his/her roof and fund it through their weekly budget. Instead, homeowners will take out a home improvement loan to put on the roof and probably to take care of a few more necessities that have been building up...maybe some plumbing repairs or adding a bathroom for a growing family.

With a new school roof costing around $1 million, there really isn't any way to handle that expense through our regular operating budget, where we typically budget around $2 million for capital improvements/repairs district-wide.

How much do we normally spend on facilities? Click here for a spreadsheet that lists the money spent on a school-by-school basis over the past 10 years. (Click "Detailed Annual Maintenance Worksheet.") You can also see that our District spends FAR MORE than is required by the state. (At that same link, click "Annual Maintenance Budget Worksheet.") Could we spend more on maintenance? Yes...but since our budget is capped at a 4% increase on the tax levy, any increases for facilities would have to come from somewhere else in the budget. The Board of Ed has been reluctant in the past to cut from those areas that more directly "touch" learning that takes place in the classroom. So we do the repairs that are absolutely necessary as they come up, and we save the big renovation, to carry us forward, for a Referendum such as this. It's time.

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