Sorry for the lack of activity on my blog recently. Work has alternated between super-busy and very slow, and in the latter times, I try to catch up on family stuff, my son’s college search, baking, sleep…things like that.
The Ridgewood Board of Ed meets tonight at 7:30, and I’ll be watching on FiOS Channel 33. One of the primary topics of interest is the Board’s decision about what to do with the aid that will be coming back to the District from the state. Governor Christie’s people are making a big deal about how this aid represents the governor’s “commitment to education,” but I can’t help but wonder why, if he was so committed, he took it away in the first place. But that’s neither here nor there anymore. Now districts like Ridgewood need to figure out what to do with the money – within all the budgetary restrictions and rules imposed by the state. The biggest issue, that most people don’t understand, is that the money really should not be used for anything that will be an ongoing cost. For example, teachers or staff. Why? Because if you add staff now (like, to reduce class sizes in a grade or two replace a program that was cut), then when next year’s budget rolls around, we won’t be able to fund those salaries. The budget cap (which is really a tax levy cap) will prevent those positions from being funded, because they were not funded by this year’s tax levy. The state’s tax levy cap makes it impossible for districts to most effectively incorporate a windfall-type infusion of funding. Just another unforeseen drawback that taxpayers don’t always see.
(I hope Governor Christie and his minions don't think this return of part of our funding makes up for the delay in reimbursing us for the referendum construction grant monies. Boy, the shell games they play...maybe we'll have to use the state aid money to pay for the construction, while we wait again for the state to fulfill its legal obligation...again.)
I’m not sure what the other options and restrictions are for these funds coming back from the state. Presumably, the funds could be placed in the district’s surplus account for now, and then applied according to the rules that guide that line item’s use. I presume that Dr. Fishbein will make a recommendation, or a couple of recommendations, to the Board as to how he thinks the funds should best be used. I’ll be interested in that conversation tonight.
I see from the agenda that there’s opportunity for public comment regarding the district’s alternatives, so if you have an opinion, please go to the Ed Center and share it.
Also on the agenda: a proposal by Dr. Fishbein to have the District reimburse BOE members for the cost of their state-mandated criminal history checks. I don’t know what these background checks are going to cost, yet, but I think it’s reasonable for the District to pick up the tab. (Frankly, I think Trenton should pick-up the tab.)
I also see that the Board will have the second reading of new and revised policies, one of which is the Extracurricular Code of Conduct policy which I think is confusing and problematic with regard to enforcement. Will be interested to see if there is any discussion.
I’m going to try and start posting more regularly again…I have been reading all the education news and info blogs I’ve always followed, just haven’t felt the need to talk much these days. I’ll be visiting colleges the rest of this week with my son, but feel free to send your comments, especially after tonight’s discussion/decision re: additional funding. Let me know what you think!
P.S. Sorry there are no links to the agenda, etc. For some reason Blogger is no allowing me to post links. Just one more reason I'm considering moving to another blog platform...
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: firstname.lastname@example.org