Over the past few weeks, Governor Christie and the media have made a big deal about some recently-released data. It showed that statewide, over the past 10 years, enrollment in New Jersey schools has grown 3%, while staffing in NJ schools has grown 14%. The Governor and others used these statistics to back-up the claim that there has been a "hiring spree" in our schools and that today there is "plenty of room to cut." I would totally agree on a statewide level.
However, the statistics in Ridgewood are very different:
2000-2010 Ridgewood: (from DOE reporting)
Enrollment Growth = 11%
Total Staff Growth = 6.9%
And if we project ahead to next year (2010-11) based on the cuts we are making, it will look like this:
2000-2011 Ridgewood: (from DOE reporting)
Enrollment Growth = 11%
Total Staff Growth = 0%
In other words, Ridgewood's staffing-to-enrollment growth ratio is the complete opposite of the rest of the state. (See year-by-year comparison chart at the end of this post.)
Unlike many other districts, Ridgewood is educating many more students in a much more rigorous program with much more state-mandated curriculum – and with the same number of staff -- as 10 years ago. This doesn’t look like “bloat” to me.
FYI, the number of administrators in the district has gone down 34% in the same 10-year period. Our highest number of administrators was 37 in 2004-2005 down to 27 currently in 2009-2010 and cut to 21 next year. We have not had so few administrators in decades.
Our district serves 5,700+ students every day. And we will accomplish this next year with 21 administrators. I have to be honest and say while I’m all for streamlining and working “lean,” I’m a bit concerned about the workloads and effectiveness of those 21 administrators. It is for this reason that I can’t support cutting any more administration at this time.
Of course, if the Governor’s proposed 2.5% budget cap becomes law, we’ll be cutting our budget more next year, and we may have to find ways to consolidate a few more administrators. But for now, for this year, I think we’ve cut enough.
P.S. When you hear statements in the media from Governor Christie or Commissioner Schundler or the NJEA, please don't assume that the statistics they quote necessarily hold true for Ridgewood. They usually don't.
P.P.S. Let me be crystal clear for those who would like further explanation: The point of this post is not to lament that our staffing has somehow not "kept up" with enrollment growth. I am simply pointing out that our statistics are not the same as the state statistics. I think that's good news. Come on, admit it: even if you still think the budget should be cut more, or certain staff should be let go, this is a positive fact...right?
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