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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ridgewood state aid cut may be catastrophic

The district will have details hopefully by the end of the day, but based on published reports it appears from Governor Christie's budget address yesterday that our state aid for next year MAY be cut in its entirety...all of it...100%...as in $2.9 million. This would be on top of the $3.3 million we've already cut from the proposed budget. This is beyond shocking.

The Governor also proposed lowering the tax levy cap to 2.5%. I'm not sure if that could be enacted for immediately upcoming budget, but if it were, that would be another $1.2 million cut.

Details to come when I know more.


Anonymous said...

Laurie please read,

Laurie said...

Yes, I did read that article the other day. When asked recently, representatives of Ridgewood's bargaining units declined to discuss concessions or opening their contracts to help with the budget situation. Perhaps the news from yesterday will change some minds.

And speaking of the aid cuts announced yesterday by Governor Christie, Fort Lee is losing $2.8 million in state aid, so they will end up laying off employees after all.

Anonymous said...


I know I'm probably grasping at straws here, and that we're required to use the bond money for the projects in the referendum, but, if the cushion built into the projects isn't needed or if the DEP does decide against the turf fields, could those funds then be diverted to the regular budget?

Laurie said...

The board could elect to use those funds for other facilities projects. So the way I understand it, in a round-about way, if those funds were used for some other facilities projects next year, then the money which had been budgeted for those facilities projects would be freed up for the rest of the budget. The other option is that the Board could elect to use the unpsent funds for debt relief, to lower the tax increase for taxpayers.

Laurie said...

Another note regarding Fort Lee and changing to the state health plan:

Traditionally the state plan has had higher premium costs than what Ridgewood pays for our health plan. Obviously Fort Lee must have had some kind of super-expensive plan, if the state plan would actually save them money. For us, when we've looked, it would not.

In Ridgewood, we've enjoyed moderate premium increases in the last 5-6 years. Privatizing our custodial, transportation, and food services helped to reduce the pool of employees covered. This year's increase of 25%-30% is the highest anyone can remember. The previous highest increase was around 13%-14% and the lowest premium increase was last year at 2%.

Over the years the Ridgewood BOE has been reluctant to be involved with the state plan because the state had subsidized the plan at times and the premiums were lower one year and shot up the next. I'm told that when we were seeing premium increases of 9% and 10% the state plan was double that.

And then there's the issue of trusting the state to manage health insurance for our staff...not feeling real positive about that!

I don't know enough about Fort Lee's situation to understand how they achieved that savings. They are a smaller district so it's hard to compare without all the info.

Of course, with what's happening now, our administration and BOE will need to look at everything.