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, July 19, 2010

Who says summer meetings are quiet?

Tonight's meeting of the Board of Education was for the most part a quiet affair, as meetings during the summer usually are. Dr. Fishbein updated us on referendum construction projects, which are rolling along. Big work starting at Hawes...Stevens Field is dug and draining is being installed...roofing projects all over the place. So far, so good. Our construction management company, Epic, is doing a great job of overseeing things and updating the administration and Facilities Committee.

We actually conducted some important business at tonight's meeting:

The Board passed a resolution opposing Governor Christie's proposal to cap school superintendents' salaries. We made some revisions during the meeting, so when the revised version is available in a day or so, I'll post it here.

The Board also approved going forward with a plan to install lights at the RHS Stadium and Stevens Fields, thanks to a financial partnership with many of the community sports programs, and high school parent booster groups. If you recall, during the referendum discussion last Fall, we talked about the need and desire for lights, but we wanted to wait and see if community sports groups were able to contribute to the funding. Over the past few weeks, a few remarkable things happened to lead to tonight's decision: first, the District solicited bids for the best, high-tech lights out there -- Musco lights are efficient and so well-targeted that there is no "light spill" just a few feet from the field. Next, the bids came in much lower than expected, and one contractor's prices were about $300,000 lower than the next bidder. Next, several youth sports groups and high school booster groups committed to funding over half the total cost, and Dr. Fishbein outlined a plan for the District the fund the remainder through a combination of donations to the District in exchange for "naming rights" of various facilities, through annual savings of approx. $10,000 in water expenses that will not be needed to water the turf fields, and, if necessary, with money saved in referendum project costs coming in much lower than projected.

Basically, the total cost of the lights is roughly $500,000 and it's a 5-year lease-purchase program. The sports groups will fund 100% of the installation -- $106,000 -- in the first year, then in years 2 through 5, the sports groups will fund $40,000 per year, and the BOE will fund $65,000. We could raise all the remaining funds through additional donations. It's definitely within reach. In any event, we'll have access to the leftover referendum funds in years 4-5 (that's when the projects will be complete), so the only "unknown" is our portion for years 2-3, which is about $130,000 (or $110,000 if you deduct the money we're saving by not watering the fields). There are already potential corporate donors "in the pipeline," who are eager to make donations in exchange for naming rights to fields or other facilities. (The Board already has a policy for naming rights...it is currently being updated.)

I'm really proud that we were able to work together, in partnership with the community, to make this happen. The arrangement is similar to what happened in the construction of Maple Field, when the sports groups worked with the Village and were so successful in their fundraising, that they were able to fulfill their financial commitment early.

Also at tonight's meeting, we approved a change to the school calendar for this year, 2010-11. As part of our budget cuts for this year, we eliminated paying teachers for extra time to conduct parent conferences outside of school hours. Instead, elementary schools will hold a half-day session on Election Day November 2, with teachers holding parent conferences in the afternoon. Additionally, all schools grade K-12 will be closed on November 3. On that day, grade K-5 teachers will conduct conferences, and grades 6-12 will do professional development. This will flow into the Teacher Convention Days, which are November 4 and 5.

The next Board of Ed meeting will be August 30. This will be our annual "Retreat," where we will set goals for the 2010-11 school year, and discuss our evaluation of our operations and effectiveness.


Anonymous said...

Are those days considered additional professional development days or are they replacing others later in the year? Will the instructional time be made up?

Laurie said...

The full-day professional development day will replace the PD which was going to be March 25. (March 25 will now be a regular school day.)

I can't remember right this moment if or how the half-day lost by K-5 students will be made-up. I will check on that, but may not be able to post an answer until I get back from vacation on 8/1.

Laurie said...

OK, I can finally answer this question (sorry for the delay!). The full-day is being changed to a "minimum day" for grades K-5. In counting instructional days, a minimum day is counted the same as a regular day. So...bottom line is there were 182 instructional days before the calendar change, and there are still 182 instructional days after the change.