The following was sent out from the Ed Center today to parents and the press.
I added my comments at the end...
Ridgewood Public Schools officials have learned that the State of New Jersey is delaying the execution of all approved grant monies for new school construction projects until Governor-elect Chris Christie takes office. The announcement that the New Jersey Schools Development Authority will honor the request by the governor-elect’s transition team means that Ridgewood’s school referendum projects approved by voters last December have been put on hold.
“We have been counseled by our legal and financial advisors to not commit significant monies to the referendum projects until Governor-elect Christie makes a final decision regarding the funding of grant awards,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel Fishbein. The approved $48 million Ridgewood bond referendum for capital repairs and improvements to the public schools include approximately $10 million in state grant monies. The removal of the grant monies would likely impact the scope and viability of the voter-approved projects.
Dr. Fishbein said that if the new governor decides to remove the grant awards, Ridgewood and all other districts that approved bond referendums last September and December will then wait for a directive from the state as to how to proceed.
“We are hoping for the best case scenario, which will allow the process to continue and the grant agreements be signed, so that the referendum projects can go forward without further delay. In the meantime, we will update the public with important new developments as we get them from the state.”
The decision will not be known until sometime after Mr. Christie is sworn in as governor on January 19.
I'm still in "cautiously optimistic" mode. I can understand the new governor's transition team wanting to take a pause and sort through all their financial obligations, mandatories vs. wish lists, etc., but I do believe that they will need to fulfill things that are OBLIGATIONS. Go ahead and change your mind on something that was discussed or planned or assumed, go ahead and stop approving new school construction grants from now on, but because the state APPROVED our grant and Ridgewood taxpayers VOTED based on that approval, I think they will have to proceed, sign the grant agreements and let us get on with the business of improving our schools.
Should we have known this would happen? How could we? The unpredictability and instability evidenced in EVERYTHING that comes from Trenton re: schools would make it impossible. If we waited around to do anything only after some sort of "guarantee" from Trenton...nothing would ever get done! There is never any guarantee. Ever. Personally, I try to take people at their word, expect them to do the same from me, and cross bridges as I come to them.
So...I'm going to remain calm, let the new governor get sworn in on January 19, and then expect those grant agreements to be executed as intended and promised to voters.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org