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, May 10, 2011

Communication issues were the highlight of last night's BOE meeting.

I attended the Board of Education’s Reorganization Meeting last night…It was a little weird to be sitting there in the audience. I wanted to show my support for the new Board and to wish them well in the new year. Michele Lenhard and Bob Hutton were returned to their offices of President and Vice President, and Michele read a resolution thanking me for my service to the Board. That was really nice and sort of awkward for me to sit there listening to the list things I had contributed to the BOE. They gave me a beautiful orchid and a framed copy of the resolution.

I had planned to just stay for part of the meeting, but decided to stick around for the full experience. A couple highlights for me:

Sheila Brogan suggested that the Board look at its process for public comment, to see if there might be some changes that could be made to make it more inviting and more productive. She mentioned the feeling residents and audience members get when they hear questions asked at the microphone, but don’t ever hear the answers, even if those answers are sent directly to the speaker at a later date. I’m glad to hear that the Board will be taking this up, perhaps over the summer. I have to point out that most of what Sheila said are things I said at my first BOE “retreat” meeting in April 2008 and again in 2009. But whatever, better late than never. I’m just glad they’ll be looking at it again. Change really does take time, doesn’t it?

Bob Hutton said he wants to invite all “no” voters (and even “yes” voters) to come talk about the school budget, share concerns and ideas for what changes they’d like to see, that might influence their support in the future. I think this is an awesome idea…I hope they’ll be able to get the message out. The challenge is always in communicating with those taxpayers who don’t have children in the schools. I hope there will be a mailing to taxpayers or some other way to get the word out…and I hope those of you reading this will pass the word along.

Two meetings will be scheduled. The first session has already been set for Monday May 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ed Center. BOE Finance Committee members Michele Lenhard and Bob Hutton will attend, along with Business Administrator Angelo DeSimone. I’m going to try and make it, but might have to wait for the next meeting. Please attend – especially if you want to tell the Board what’s wrong with the current budget.

Those were my main take-aways from last night’s meeting. I don’t know how often I’ll attend in person. I’ll probably watch the streaming webcast online. When (if) the Village ever gets the Verizon FIOS hook-up for community access broadcasts, I’ll watch on my TV, too. (Supposedly this is still inching forward.)


Anonymous said...

Laurie, I have to say that I have never received an answer to any questions I have asked at a board meeting either during or after the meeting, nor has anyone I know.

Also, it is the height of hypocritical that Bob Hutton would publicly invite anyone to address the board about the school budget since he has been known to state, at the conclusion of the public commentary at meetings on that very subject that the public's comments are of no value to and should have no influence on the board's decisions.

Laurie said...

As to getting your questions answered after BOE meetings, when the Board has this conversation that Mrs. Brogan suggested, I hope you will be there to give your opinion/relate your experience.

Re: the meetings to hear from "no" voters: notwithstanding your perpetuating (and embellishing) what I consider a “Ridgewood myth” as to what Mr. Hutton said, I think it’s more productive to look FORWARD. Rather than see it as hypocritical, I see it as growth in the right direction. This is a good thing! It’s a chance for dialogue. Let’s do it and not just write it off immediately.

Anonymous said...

Laurie, you were there when Hutton made that comment. How dare you try to lie to the public about it now. It is important to note his blatant disregard for the public he's supposed to serve. If he actually turns over a new leaf, so be it. But if he's merely putting on a show, the public should know so they can make the right decision when Mr. Hutton seeks re-election.

"Ridgewood myth"? Funny how you can suggest that a comment that you claim was never made could be "embellished". I voted for you Laurie, but now I'm glad you lost.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Laurie...sheesh some of you people are never satisfied! Take this chance to tell the Board what you think about your "no" vote.

Laurie said...

I truly hope my time blogging will not ALL be spent talking about who said what during my three years on the Board of Ed.

That being said, you’re right I was there. I know what Mr. Hutton said and it was something like, “let’s move on to the business on the agenda.” The “myth” (and what I considered the embellishment) is that he said something about “the public's comments are of no value to and should have no influence on the board's decisions.” I can assure you that is not what was said and I do not believe it is what was intended, although I understand that may be what you took away. As I recall, at that meeting, the proposed budget was done and it had to be approved that night, including the unfortunate budget cuts that had been painfully and carefully deliberated by Board members.

Thanks for the comments...I'm out for the rest of the day. (I need to get some work done sometime!)

Anonymous said...

Laurie, I don't know why you bother writing this blog sometimes. You can't win with some of these people, they obviously don't care what you think and are just grinding their own axes.

But thanks for doing it tho. :)

Anonymous said...

Laurie, you know Hutton said that the public's comments didn't matter and the board needed to go ahead and do what they had already decided to do. Everyone that was still there, who had taken the time to be there and speak to the board felt that slap in the face from Hutton immediately after the public comment ended. You're the one who called that a myth. Some people may not be able to quote Mr. Hutton verbatim, but what I just posted is pretty close. What you posted is misleading. And the fact that you feel the need to be misleading is troubling considering the position you held.

P.S. Maybe you should try to refrain from "embellishing" your own comments.

Laurie said...

Oops...I really thought I published your comment the other day, but it was hidden in the spam folder. (Sorry, this happens from time to time on the less-than-perfect" Blogger dashboard...usually it just spams my own comments though ha.)

Anyway, I also thought I had responded. (What can I say, it's been a rough week). What I wanted to say was that I'm really not trying to mislead. I've always just felt that we heard the comment differently. I spent over an hour the other day watching past meeting webcasts, trying to find the spot where Bob made that comment...I could not find it, sorry. I guess I always felt like I knew what he meant, having spent hours and hours in those budget meetings with him, but he certainly said it badly and I can understand how you heard it. Believe me or not...I know what I heard and I understand what you say you heard. I think for our purposes here we're going to have to leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Well then, to borrow your phrasing Laurie, how about we leave it at I know what I heard and I understand what you say you heard.