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, July 6, 2010

Can a public district convert to a charter or private district and leave Trenton's rules behind?

There was a story in the Star-Ledger this weekend about the Glen Ridge district considering converting to charter schools or private schools.

According to the story:

Faced with burdensome mandates and diminishing returns from Trenton, one of the state’s top public school districts is considering a path that could make it the first to effectively secede from New Jersey’s public education system.

The Glen Ridge school board will enter largely uncharted waters when it gathers at a retreat this month to discuss converting some or all of the four schools in the 1,932-student district to charter or private schools.

In a community where the average property tax bill tops $16,000, the idea of becoming a breakaway district emerged as word spread that Glen Ridge’s already small portion of state aid would vanish and that New Jersey might embrace a new cap limit to tax increases in order to encourage school districts to merge.

Click here for the full Star-Ledger story.

Sounds sort of lovely, doesn't it? Just leave Trenton behind, do things ourselves, nobody telling us what to do, nobody taking away our funds at the last minute. I bet the sun shines a little brighter and the birds sing a little sweeter, too...

Sorry, don't mean to be cynical, but I'm not super-optimistic about this. First of all, the idea that we could secede because we get "nothing" from the state isn't accurate. Sure, our regular aid was cut 100% for 2010-11. But the state does provide other aid to Ridgewood, in the form of "extraordinary aid" to help with special education costs. I don't have the exact amount at hand, but I'm fairly certain we would miss it if it were gone. Second, the state makes the employer contribution to teachers' pensions. OK, OK, the state is supposed to make the employer contribution..the fact that they have not been doing so recently is a minor detail right? You can bet that if we became responsible for making those contributions, Trenton would be all over us with fines and whatnot if we didn't pay-up on time.

Another thing to consider: I'm not sure, but I think it's true that if a school or district were to do convert to private, they would be required to turn over all property to the state.

So the question Glen Ridge's BOE will be considering is if the savings achieved by removing Trenton's rules and regs are enough to make up for the loss of extraordinary aid and the obligation to make pension contributions.

I certainly understand the appeal of "secession." I'll be watching what develops in Glen Ridge.

Small world note: Glen Ridge's current superintendent is John Mucciolo, former RHS principal. And our superintedent, Dan Fishbein, was superintendent in Glen Ridge before he came to Ridgewood.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. The article seemed a bit simplistic and I was fairly sure there were underlying reasons for staying with the state.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sounds like wishful thinking. There's no way it could be worth it to turn over the buildings, etc., to the state and then lease space. Plus, isn't there something in the state constitution about towns being required to provide schools to their resident children? If all of Ridgewood's schools were private, that means they would charge tuition? What a massive headache. I can't really see that working.

Anonymous said...

What a dopey thing to say, "turn over the property to the state." What state comrade, NJ? It belongs to the village, you morons. It is owned by the Village of Ridgewood, not the BOE or the state. LOL. What planet are you from?

As for pensions, there wouldn't be any under a private plan. There would be no unions and therefore no pensions. Teachers would have what the rest of us have, 401K's.

Time is ticking... the day of public schools is quickly coming to an end. Our children will not be sending their kids to "public schools." Vouchers, scholarships... call them what you will - the money will follow the child and create a consumer orientated and responsive enterprise.

It will be great. We wont have to suffer the lame system we have now in Ridgewood where a Superintendent can ignore principal and parents' selection for an AD because his buddy, Chairman on the Rutgers Board of State Super's, of which he sits too, has a dopey wife super at Demarest who badmouthed our AD candidate because he wouldn't take the blame for her idiocy when it came to hiring a baseball coach for the HS there.

Yea, the sooner we privatize the RPS system, the more money we will save by firing incompetent and unnecessary administrators pushing paper at Cottage Place.

It can't come soon enough.

Laurie said...

Dear Anonymous @ 1:55:

I don't see why you need to call me a moron, but whatever.

I was told that the school property would have to go to the state of New Jersey. I will research that further and post a follow-up here.

As for pensions vs. 401K: The essence of my point remains: there are currently contributions to a retirement plan that are being made by the state and, if the District were to set-up some form of retirement plan, such as a 401K, with employer contributions, then the District would be funding those contributions, which would be an expense that we currently don't have.

I know you dream of a educational marketplace nirvana. I do not share your dream nor your expectation. You are of course entitled to your opinions and your predictions...I tend to shy away from predictions. Just not my game.

And as to your gratuitous inclusion of misinformation regarding confidential personnel decisions: please contact the superintendent directly if you would like to question his process or his decisions, or if you would like to explore facts. As a Board member, I certainly do not have knowledge of nor can I speculate on the particulars of personnel decisions that have not come before the Board. But I will say this: there is a process for hiring for all supervisory positions, and it involves much more than your post implies. In addition, anyone who works out in the "real world" knows that CEOs make decisions every day that contradict the wishes of department heads or VPs. It happens. The CEO (and in education-world that is the superintendent) is the only one in the organization with the full view of -- and the full responsibility for -- the operation. It's his call.

Have a lovely day and I will get that info as soon as I can re: the disposition of district property upon becoming private or a charter.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for calling you and the other poster morons. Perhaps you shouldn't believe everything you hear.

No "gratuitous misinformation" here. Just the facts ma'am, just the facts. Pull the paperwork on the candidate (performance reviews from Demarest)along with what he did in Paramus (we know parents complained because he made long over due changes that improved the athletic dept).

Our super is a incompetent boob. And so are the three stooges who work for him. Comparing him to a CEO is folly. When are you going to open your eyes to the fact that they haven't a clue as to what they are doing. Start asking the right questions. And if you don't know what those questions are, then you shouldn't run for a second term.

P.S. we already pay into the pension fund. Where do you think Trenton gets the money to under-fund the teachers' pension fund?

Privatize the system and we'll save a bundle of money. Now, that is "nirvana" to this taxpayer's ears.

Laurie said...

Apology accepted.

Still trying to get facts re: disposition of district property. The info about it going to the state (and yes, that means the state of New Jersey, as illogical as that may be)) came from someone who researched this in the past. I am attempting to get current info.

Not going to comment on personnel details. You know I cannot.

More name-calling, really?

P.S. I assume Trenton gets the $$ from our income tax. Do you think they'd to give that portion back if we were a charter district? HA

Anonymous said...

"I assume Trenton gets the $$ from our income tax. Do you think they'd to give that portion back if we were a charter district? HA"

That's all the more reason to stop electing tax and spend Democrats and moderate Republicans.

Thank goodness for a governor that recognizes that we can no longer continue to feed the beast.

Do you realize that over the last 10 years, $30 billion dollars of capital has fled our state? Now, what do you suppose motivated that?

Laurie said...

FYI -- I appreciate the feedback and I enjoy going back-and-forth on the issues. I'm happy to hear criticism of myself or the Board's actions. BUT I will not post comments which are simply name-calling or disparaging of District staff. I am not allowed to discuss staff in public, so I'm sure you can understand my reluctance to provide a forum for others to do so, literally, under my name.

Anonymous said...

Laurie, you are soooo noble, a true guardian of justice. I applaud your nurturing protectiveness of our oh so esteemed district staff.

Laurie said...

Ha ha. Not trying to be "noble," just trying to do the right thing, legally and ethically.