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

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reason #7 to Vote YES on April 20:
We held the tax increase to the 4% cap.

Before anyone starts in with complaints that the Board views the 4% cap as a “target,” consciously choosing to budget to that level of growth no matter what…let me just say this about that (as my Dad used to say):

Six months or so ago, we started talking at Board meetings about the upcoming budget. We discussed looking at several options, including versions with tax increases of 0%, 1%, 2%, 3% and 4%. For myself, I can say that I was hoping there would be some way to create a budget with a less-than-cap tax increase. I knew it would probably mean some cuts, but I wanted to at least see what it would look like.

Of course, this was long before we knew about our health insurance premiums going up almost 30%...before we knew exactly how much our transportation costs or out-of-district tuition costs would be rising…and before we ever could have imagined losing 100% of our categorical aid from the state.

The fact is, the District had to cut over $6 million just to create a budget that was based on a 4% tax increase. These cuts are painful and deep. The idea that we could somehow cut even more, to increase taxes, say, 3%, is basically unfathomable. To me.

So, I guess in one sense, this year the 4% increase did become something of a target. It was a target that would let us establish a limit to the cuts to our programs and our Ridgewood education.

Now we could have, legally, created a budget that incorporated a 5% tax increase. Or 6%. Or more. Our loss of state aid qualified us to get a waiver to raise taxes over the cap. Board members heard from many community members who actually asked us to do this. The common theme of these emails and calls and conversations was: please don’t cut so deeply. We’re willing to pay more for our schools.

The Board discussed the idea of going above the cap, and determined that our community, overall, would not support such a budget. There were two primary themes in the communications I personally received: 1) some people said they simply could not afford to pay more. 2) Others said they might be willing to pay more, if the teachers’ union had been willing to give some concession on their contract.

In the end, the Board’s goal was to approve a budget that we felt the community could support. We need the budget to pass (or else more cuts will be made...more on that in a future post).

Any questions on the budget, feel free to comment here, or send an email to budget11@ridgewood.k12.nj.us. You can also review the budget, the cuts and other budget information by clicking here.

Please vote YES on April 20.

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