Someone asked, "Why are you sneaking in the fields with the educational projects in the referendum? You're just trying to slide it past the voters."
Let me explain it. We talked at length about whether we should have one question or two. We wondered if the athletic projects should be in one question, and the building renovations in another question. There was some worry that the athletic projects would become the "lightning rod" issue, like the pool was way back when (in the failed referendum). I can tell you my personal opinion from the very beginning was that we should NOT have two questions. First, I work in direct marketing, and my first boss taught me that when faced with a difficult decision, if you give customers a way "out," they will take it. I always felt that if voters were faced with two questions, they would vote "no" on the smaller question in order to feel more in control. I felt from the beginning that our athletic facilities were in serious disrepair, due in part to their overuse in our field-poor village, and this situation truly needed to be addressed in a way it has not been for a very long time.
Second, statistically, 2nd referendum questions fail. That is a fact. You can read a history of New Jersey referendum questions by clicking here. By deciding to include the athletic projects in the single referendum question, the Board clearly felt that the projects were too important to sacrifice.
Believe me when I tell you, the athletic projects in the referendum have nothing to do with kids wanting to play on turf or parents wanting fancy facilities for their kids. It's not about wanting "luxuries." It's about these things only: 1) Ridgewood High School does not have enough outdoor "wellness" teaching space. That's according to the State. (And that's why they're giving us debt service aid.) 2) Ridgewood does not have enough field space for the number of children age 5-18 participating in recreational sports. We want to do our part to address this community shortage by putting the RHS and Stevens Fields into the rotation. (I experienced first-hand the benefit to my family's daily life when Maple was renovated, relaxing some of the competition for soccer fields and reducing our late-night schedule.) 3) We need to reduce wear and tear on our current BOE fields, which will keep them in better shape, reduce the work/expense needed to keep them playable, and protect our investment. One bonus to all this is the addition of the regulation 400M track & field facility at BF, which will allow our athletes, some of the best in the state, to train and compete in a facility whose quality matches their efforts. Another bonus is the RHS school community being able to walk out their door, come together, and either play soccer or lacrosse or football, or cheer on their classmates, boys or girls, as they compete.
I understand how some people may cynically believe we have a single referendum question as some sort of "trick." It's not a trick. (And by the way it's too late to change it for the Dec. 8 vote.) It's only this: the athletic projects are included in the question because they're important...important enough that we don't want them to fail.
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