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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Press Release from the Ed Center

The following press release was just distributed from Dr. Fishbein and the Ed Center:


MARCH 18, 2010 – On Wednesday, March 17, the Board of Education received state aid figures for the 2010-2011 school year. In line with proposals made by Governor Christie in his annual budget speech the previous day, the Ridgewood Public Schools will receive zero dollars in state aid next year, which amounts to a loss of $2,985,477 to the district. This loss in aid is in addition to a $3.4 million gap that the district has been striving to close in order to bring the proposed 2010-11 school budget to the four percent cap as mandated by state law.

“In the face of this heavy blow, the district’s administrators will now finalize the educational plan that they believe will best serve our students and community in the coming school year,” said Dr. Daniel Fishbein, Superintendent of Schools. “Every attempt will be made to find cost savings in a manner that will result in the least harm to our core programs. However, there is no doubt that the plan will include painful budget reductions, and even more painful staff layoffs.”

The Superintendent is responsible for making the specific recommendations to the Board of Education that will reduce next year’s budget. Those recommendations will be reviewed by the Board. On Monday, March 22, a preliminary 2010-11 budget reflecting the nearly $3 million reduction in state aid will be presented for the first time at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Ridgewood Board of Education at 7:30 p.m. at the Education Center, 49 Cottage Place, on the third floor. The public is encouraged to attend that meeting and offer their questions and comments.

The Ridgewood Board of Education is now confronted by the largest budget cuts in the district’s 116-year history. Ridgewood is one of 59 New Jersey districts to receive no state aid. Though the majority of New Jersey districts have not been completely deprived of aid, all face similar, serious situations. In the next ten days, communities all over the state will be struggling with agonizing choices. “Our goal in Ridgewood is to do everything we can to sustain the high educational quality that meets community expectations and sustains our property values,” said Dr. Fishbein. “Now, more than ever, we depend on public input and support to accomplish our goals.”

Dr. Fishbein added that this year, a shortened budget timetable imposed by the state has made 2010-11 school year budget construction extremely difficult. In the following prepared statement, the superintendent spoke of the grim news and urged the public to attend the upcoming meetings of the Board of Education.

“The desperate condition of the state’s economy has made extraordinary sacrifices inevitable. Many members of the Ridgewood community have been hurt by the severe recession, making it imperative that we make every effort possible to balance our fiscal and educational responsibilities. We have been dealt a very hard blow. We and our advocates will be working hard in Trenton in the coming weeks and months to secure promises for reductions in onerous and costly state mandates, and we will be monitoring other legislation that will affect our ability to provide for our students. We will meet with our legislators and report back to you on our efforts. It is a very unsteady time in our district’s history. But one thing is certain: Our strength has always come from Ridgewood, not Trenton. Please remember to join the Board and me at our public meetings on March 22 and March 31, as we take the next difficult steps in the 2010-11 budget process. Those wishing to send questions in advance should direct them to me at budget11@ridgwood.k12.nj.us or call the Board Office at 201-670-2700 ext. 10530.”

Next Steps

After approval by the Board, the 2010-11 preliminary budget will go to the Executive County Superintendent (ECS). When the ECS approves the budget, the Board will hold the legally mandated Official Public Hearing. This hearing will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31, at the Education Center, 49 Cottage Place, on the third floor. Again, the public is encouraged to attend.

Ridgewood residents who are registered voters will be eligible to vote in the School Board/School Budget election that will be held on Tuesday, April 20, 2010. Regular district polling locations will be open that day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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