In some ways, Ridgewood Public Schools are a victim of our own success when it comes to finances. When state regulations imposed the infamous “cap” that allows us to increase our tax levy no more than 4%, school district budgets were essentially frozen in time. From that day on, the potential increase of any budget was limited. Districts that were wasteful and bloated or, shall we say, robustly or luxuriously funded (depending on how you look at it) at that time, began their tiny increases at the higher level. When cuts were needed to stay under cap, those districts had plenty of “fat” to cut. Districts that had already taken cost-saving measures and were already lean, found it harder and harder to identify “extras” to eliminate.
That’s where we are today in Ridgewood. We already have one of the lowest Cost Per Pupil spending rates around. We already have one of the highest ratios of students to administrators. Our class sizes are already on the higher side (not “high,” per se, but compared to some neighboring towns). And over the past 20 years, Ridgewood Public Schools has already undertaken many of the cost-saving efforts that some districts are just now contemplating:
-- We already outsourced our custodial & maintenance services 14 (or was it 17?) years ago
-- We already outsource our cafeteria services
-- We participate in a bid consortium for purchasing all instructional, office and co-curricular supplies
-- We belong to a consortium that buys energy in bulk to save $$
-- We contract with an energy monitoring company that has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years
-- We belong to a telephone service consortium for buying telephone services at discount
-- We upgraded our phone service to VoIP last year, reducing our phone service fees from $100,000/year to $700/month
-- We participate in an insurance consortium for purchasing our property, liability, etc., insurance
Every day I seem to see another story in the newspaper about a district “looking into” outsourcing its custodial service or food service. How nice for them that they have that option! Because we already did these things – and we have saved thousands of dollars since – we unfortunately don’t have those relatively “easy” options available to us today.
As you can see, Ridgewood Schools work hard to save money and be as efficient as possible in our spending. This is another good reason to Vote YES on April 20.
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