Following is the statement I made during tonight's Board of Ed meeting:
I want to say thank you to the administrators -- in the schools and at the Ed Center – who worked so hard to put this budget together. As we’ve all said over and over, this has been a difficult process. As an organization, the district isn’t built to withstand an assault like this…change normally happens very gradually here.
Unfortunately, the cuts and their timing, forced us to make decisions that really involved much deeper questions about where our priorities are, what our expectations are, and what we, as a community, want from our schools. These are great conversations to have – but we shouldn’t be forced to rush them in the space of a week or two…not the best way to make long-term decisions about the future. One silver lining of this experience is that it’s identified some of these questions and revealed opportunities for improvements in our process.
That being said, we’ve done our best to quickly sort priorities and numbers and, as painful as the cuts are, and as hard as we’re all going to have to work to adjust, we will do it. On April 21, the day after the budget vote, we’ll still have the things that make Ridgewood great. We’ll still have amazing students, we’ll still have involved parents and we’ll still have excellent staff. A lot of places don’t have even one those things...budget cuts will hurt those places much more.
So thank you to the parents, students, staff and community members who shared your opinions. I hope we can all work together as a community to meet the financial challenges – which are still going to be here next year -- and to answer those big questions about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Sure, Trenton is out there...the economy is out there...Christie & the NJEA are out there...but it’s how we choose to respond in here, in Ridgewood, that will determine the future of our schools. We can do this. We’re going to be OK and we’re going to continue to deliver an excellent education. We have no choice, but to go forward and make it happen...and we will.
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