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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fundraising vs. Funding.

I have to say, while I applaud the energetic and well-meaning parents of the RHS Home & School Association, I do wish their Phone-a-thon fundraiser had been scheduled for a time that didn't coincide with the school budget presentations, discussions and upcoming vote. It's potentially confusing for parents, and I think it dilutes both of our messages and efforts. The fact is, our school budget is limited by the state's 2% cap on taxes. Once we factored in the expected increase in our health insurance premiums, that didn't leave much room for anything but the basics. Priorities are developed by the principals and the administration, and only essential items are budgeted. Yes, the District replaces equipment such as microscopes and computers as much as it can, but we have to be very choosy from year to year in order to allocate funds for maximum impact. At all our schools, we are extremely lucky and appreciative of the parent efforts to fund items which are not able to be included in the budget.

Just to be crystal clear: the fundraising drive was conceived, planned and carried out by the HSA -- the parents of Ridgewood High School. I appreciate their hard work, I appreciate those who choose to donate and I respect those who choose not to donate.


Anonymous said...

That was very welcome to hear.
I was a bit put off by the letter saying they wanted 100% participation - it sounded a bit pushy. Good cause? Yes, but it is my money and I liked to be asked, not feel like I am being told.
Calling me at home, also a bit intrusive - that is not why I give out my phone number.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that with such high property taxes, we still do not have enough money in our school budget for classroom necessities? The answer is poor decisions on how the money we have for our schools is spent. Yes, I'm talking about the budget. Apparently Ms. Goodman is feeling a little uneasy about the timing of this phone-a-thon because it speaks a little too directly about the poor budgeting decisions of the BOE for her comfort level.

Ms. Goodman wants us to focus on the fact that our school budget is limited by the state's 2% cap on taxes. Personally, I'm grateful for that cap and think the $1800 it cost us to "burn in" those new stadium lights at the high school could have been better spent, not to mention the yearly cost of running them. It's fine to want certain amenities, but when they take precedence over classroom necessities, I have a problem with them. And lets not forget about all the administrative waste so many of us talked to the board about last year at this time. Our words, however fell on deaf, arrogant ears.

Everyone should remember this when it's time to vote for the two available seats on the board. Its time for a BOE that can give the classroom priority. Its time for a change.

Laurie said...

Every year there's a balancing that goes on...some prefer microscopes, some prefer sports equipment. Some have a problem with media equipment, others have a problem with the arts. An important aspect of our Ridgewood education is the wide variety of experiences we offer to students...many options in order to connect with a wide variety of kids.

In terms of budget mechanics, as you know the majority of our budget is fixed -- salaries and benefits. Our discretionary spending is minimal. We budget according to cost centers and keep any increases within the % cap. We make decisions within the cost centers so if, for example, we decided to use some facilities money for the lights, that affects what other facilities projects we might do for a couple of years, but it doesn't affect the other cost centers, such as supplies for schools.

Over the past few years, supply budgets at the schools have been reduced, and principals decide their priorities at the building level. At the elementary and middle school levels, the HSAs have helped fund additional needs for years, but only recently has the high school HSA chosen to help support educational programs.

I hope that, even if you don't agree with the decisions, this helps explain the process somewhat.

Clay Boggess said...

“I do wish their Phone-a-thon fundraiser had been scheduled for a time that didn't coincide with the school budget presentations, discussions and upcoming vote.” It sounds like they initially planned it that way because of how their fundraiser was tied into what people were talking about but instead it backfired because the message got diluted.

Anonymous said...

Stadium lights and administrative waste should never win out over classroom necessities. Save your BS for the folks that haven't been around long enough to know better Laurie. In case you didn't hear us at the last budget vote, we do not like your "balancing act", the opperative word there being "act".