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

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The latest on Valley.

I would like to thank every parent who has asked questions, expressed concerns or shared opinions regarding the proposed changes to the Village’s Master Plan. Please know that your concerns are taken very seriously and have been given much consideration. The Board of Ed believes that governing bodies should interact in a professional and respectful manner, and according to established processes. It is for this reason that the Board has not taken an official position on the question before the Planning Board.

Yesterday a group of parents presented Superintendent Dan Fishbein with a petition signed by 600+ residents, asking the Board of Ed to ask the Planning Board for an environmental impact study before the decision is made on the Master Plan. First of all, I'm not totally sure why these petitions aren't being presented directly to the Planning Board. Why do you need the BOE to ask for the study? With all due respect, residents have had many, many opportunities to make their opinions known to the Planning Board over the past three years, and a request for an environmental impact study could have been made at any time directly. Why ask the BOE, when we've made it clear we're not going to get involved in the merits of the Master Plan amendment?

Even if we wanted to press for an environmental study, it is our understanding that such environmental studies are completed only when a fully engineered site plan is developed, not when the Planning Board is considering a Master Plan amendment. It's not the appropriate time. Concept plans currently submitted are not defined enough to make an environmental impact assessment. The DEP or other reputable environmental entity would not be able to come to environmental conclusions with the current concept plans.

The BOE’s testimony to the Planning Board is available on the district website. It contains detailed information on the health, safety and educational concerns that the BOE has regarding the proposed project. If the plan is amended and a project submitted for site plan approval, the developer's agreement will be the place for us to enumerate and put into writing specific safeguards for student health, safety and learning. At that point the BOE will take an active role to define our needs, and ensure they are met. The Board reached this position after careful consideration, discussion and community input.

I can also report that Federated HSA is establishing a committee specifically to gather parent input on Valley’s plans and activities. Board of Ed President Michele Lenhard and I will participate actively in this committee, and will share all concerns with the full Board and district administration.

Finally, I have to comment on one of the more ludicrous and desperate allegations I've heard -- that Dr. Fishbein is somehow involved in a conflict of interest on the Valley issue, since his wife is a doctor with admitting privileges at Valley Hospital. Oh brother. This is like saying he has a conflict of interest as superintendent because he has children in the schools. Since the BOE and the administration have not taken a position on the master plan amendment (see the XX number of times I've already said this), where's the conflict? Fail.

I believe the Planning Board has all the info it needs to make a decision. The Planning Board is appointed by the Village Council (whom we elected), to make that decision. They've heard the opinions. They've talked to experts. Let's see what they decide.

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