Posted on

Voices heard at podium during Ridgewood BOE meeting

FEBRUARY 12, 2016    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2016, 12:31 AM
BY MATTHEW SCHNEIDER
STAFF WRITER |
THE RIDGEWOOD NEWS

RIDGEWOOD – A large number of teachers once again took the stand during Monday’s Board of Education (BOE) meeting, enumerating the various reasons why they feel a fair contract must be reached between the BOE and Ridgewood Education Association (REA).

Despite protracted negotiations, an agreement still has yet to be hammered out, causing much concern on both sides.

Although the BOE has continuously said that it values its educators and recognizes the necessity of their work, many teachers remain unconvinced.

Some, like Kim Casey, of Travell Elementary School, said they still feel like they are only figures on a spreadsheet.

“To you, I am merely a number,” she stated. “To you I am merely … the numbers of years I have before retirement, when you can fill my position with a younger teacher who won’t cost the taxpayers as much money.”

Others, like teacher Andrea Petron, of Ridge Elementary School, said they feel like teachers are an indispensible part of Ridgewood schools, and that the BOE has not treated them fairly.

“After pouring our hearts and souls into the district, it is important to know that we are appreciated and respected for the work we do,” she said. “Education is not a business, and it should not be treated as such.

“Teachers literally create every profession in the world,” she continued. “Teaching is the fundamental basis of every facet of society. It is time for you to start treating us like the rest of the world could not go on without us, including Ridgewood.”

http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/voices-heard-at-podium-during-boe-meeting-1.1510977

Posted on

Ridgewood district, teachers remain locked in contract battle

BOE_theridgewoodblog

FEBRUARY 10, 2016, 6:49 PM    LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2016, 6:57 PM
BY STEVE JANOSKI
STAFF WRITER |
THE RECORD

RIDGEWOOD — The Board of Education and the Ridgewood Education Association remain locked in their inability to come to terms on a new teachers’ contract, despite the efforts of a state-appointed fact finder.

Members of the REA, cloaked in red to show solidarity, crowded into a school board meeting Monday night for the second time this month to decry the lack of progress in negotiations. Although there are numerous points of contention, the sharpest disagreement has come over how much REA members must contribute to their health-insurance premiums.

REA President Michael Yannone, a 19-year veteran of Ridgewood High School, said Monday the board’s position in a Feb. 3 fact-finding meeting was reduced to two points: The district had no additional money to spend on teacher salaries, and no other New Jersey school district had agreed to a reduction in healthcare contributions, because that would be “unaffordable.”

Yannone said neither was true. A number of districts had negotiated reductions in healthcare contributions, he said, and an influx of state aid and health contribution money — combined with under-budgeting in certain areas — had led to a sizable surplus in the local school budget.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/ridgewood-district-teachers-remain-locked-in-contract-battle-1.1509346

Posted on

Ridgewood Education Association held a rally outside the Board of Education building

cottageplaceBOE_theridgewoodblog

FEBRUARY 5, 2016    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2016, 12:31 AM
BY MATTHEW SCHNEIDER
STAFF WRITER |
THE RIDGEWOOD NEWS

RIDGEWOOD – Amidst driving rain, members of the Ridgewood Education Association (REA) held a rally outside the village’s education building Wednesday afternoon, hoping to encourage REA President Mike Yannone as he re-entered negotiations with the Ridgewood Board of Education (BOE) and a state-appointed fact-finder.

“This is unbelievable,” Yannone said as he watched the teachers marching around in the downpour. “I didn’t think anybody would be here.”

However, upon further reflection, Yannone noted that the “frustration level of the teachers of this town is really high,” and that a “little rain isn’t going to stop them from coming out.”

The members of the REA, marching around shouting “settle now,” say they feel they have not received a fair contract offer from the BOE, as the proposal does not address their concerns about healthcare contributions.

“We’re still dealing with the same proposal they gave us 11 months ago,” Yannone said, adding that in negotiations, “Two sides have to be willing to come in here and compromise.

“Both sides have to be willing to give to get,” he continued. “We’ve had that approach all the way through.”

http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/despite-downpour-teachers-stand-up-1.1506700

Posted on

Looking at the larger picture : the Ridgewood teachers’ contract is one of the highest in the county

1379441947-obamacare3-300x27721

Looking at the larger picture

FEBRUARY 5, 2016    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2016, 12:31 AM
THE RIDGEWOOD NEWS

Looking at the larger picture

To the editor,

As a former nine year member of the Ridgewood Board of Education I would like to recognize and thank the current five members of the Board for their service. Only a few of us fully understand the position that they find themselves in during the time of teacher negotiations.

These five community members are up against the most powerful union in New Jersey. While their conversations are with representatives of the Ridgewood Education Association, the NJEA is right behind the curtain. At the same time each member when they were sworn into office, they took an oath. The oath was pretty much their commitment to play by the established rules. Public education is a regulated industry. Knowing the five members of our Board, I have no doubt that they are doing everything possible to reach a settlement with the REA within the established constraints and what is feasible for all parties. I can understand that the REA may not like those constraints.

I know the fact finder is scheduled to come to Ridgewood, shortly. Unfortunately, it is not one of those situations that after a few hours of meetings the fact finder will appear on the steps of the Education Center and make a declaration of the facts. However, those financial facts will probably rule the day in a report issued weeks later.

Looking at the larger economic picture, we know that the salary guide in the Ridgewood teachers’ contract is one of the highest in the county. We know that the offered state health benefit plan is one of the best, if not the best available in the program. For those of us employed outside of the teaching profession, we have seen stagnant salaries for a number of years and have experienced job insecurity. As to health benefits, we may be contributing the same percentage to our health care premiums, but the plan in which we are enrolled is probably a lot different today than it was a few years ago. The days of $10 copays have been replaced with high deductible plans.

I know teachers have and will continue to express their views at the microphone during public comment of BOE meetings. They have every right to do that. But, does not every issue have two sides? I firmly believe our Board is doing everything possible.

Bob Hutton

Ridgewood

http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-letters-to-the-editor/ridgewood-news-letter-looking-at-the-larger-picture-1.1506624

 

Posted on

The Ridgewood Board of Education will hold a Regular Public Meeting on Monday, February 8, 2016

BOE_theridgewoodblog
BOARD UPDATES

BOE-REA Negotiations
Click here to read a Letter to the Editor of The Ridgewood News, which appeared in the paper on January 29, 2016.

BOE Meets on February 8 at 7:30 p.m.
The Ridgewood Board of Education will hold a Regular Public Meeting on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the meeting at the Ed Center, 49 Cottage Place, Floor 3. The meeting may also be viewed on FiOS channel 33, Optimum channel 77 or from computers via the “Live BOE Meeting” tab on the district website.FiOS channel 33, Optimum channel 77 or from computers via the “Live BOE Meeting” tab on the district website.

Click here to view the agenda for the January 25, 2016 Regular Public Meeting.

Click here to view the minutes of the December 21, 2015 Regular Public Meeting.

Click here to view the minutes of the January 4, 2016 Reorganization/Regular Public Meeting.

Posted on

Ridgewood Board Of Education Meeting Fedruary 8th 7:30pm

BOE Meets on February 8 at 7:30 p.m.
The Ridgewood Board of Education will hold a Regular Public Meeting on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the meeting at the Ed Center, 49 Cottage Place, Floor 3. The meeting may also be viewed on FiOS channel 33, Optimum channel 77 or from computers via the “Live BOE Meeting” tab on the district website.FiOS channel 33, Optimum channel 77 or from computers via the “Live BOE Meeting” tab on the district website.

Click here to view the agenda for the January 25, 2016 Regular Public Meeting.

Click here to view the minutes of the December 21, 2015 Regular Public Meeting.

Click here to view the minutes of the January 4, 2016 Reorganization/Regular Public Meeting

Posted on

Ridgewood Superintendent Dr. Fishbein comments on multiple swatting incidents that recently occurred in Bergen County schools

Dr-Fishbein_theridgewoodblog

Dr. Fishbein comments on multiple swatting incidents that recently occurred in Bergen County schools, and the protocols in place for future incidents.

A Letter from Dr. Fishbein
Click here to read a letter from Dr. Fishbein regarding the multiple swatting incidents that recently occurred in Bergen County schools, and the protocols in place for future incidents.

Posted on

Trouble finding parking at Ridgewood HIgh School

file photo by Boyd Loving

JANUARY 22, 2016    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2016, 12:31 AM
THE RIDGEWOOD NEWS

Trouble finding parking at RHS

to the editor:

On Jan. 14, I received a reminder from a fellow parent regarding a pre-high school orientation at RHS at 7.30 p.m. My son attends GW Middle School (eighth grade). After receiving this reminder, and realizing it was 6.45 p.m., I quickly put a jacket on even though I was still in my gym clothes and with a sore throat. I had to make it.

Once I arrived, I made a left turn into the second parking lot (where the RHS marching band truck is parked). It was no later than 7.15 p.m. when I started circling this first lot, then I was excited to see that a car close to the door was going to pull out; actually it was just a parent who probably rushed and left her lights on. I continued circling, then exited this parking lot and turned into the one-way parking lot which was completely full and where parents were parking in the “No Parking Any Time” zone. I decided that’s not going to be me and continued to the original lot; of course at this point lots of parents were probably going around in circles like me, or were just running out of time.

At 7.44 p.m. I received a text from another concerned parent: “Where are you? ”

I stopped and answered: “Driving around trying to find parking, cannot park, not feeling well.”

Parent response: “You have to try.”

So try I did; all of a sudden the arrows were completely confusing. I even had a parent yell at the top of her lungs as in the Mr. Mom movie: “You are doing it wrong.”

At this point it was close to 8. I never give up, but after dealing with tiger moms, helicopter parents and other moms waving their hands in the air in frustration — “We are leaving there is no parking anywhere” — I too exited and did not end up attending the meeting.

I moved to Ridgewood as a single parent of one (widow) in 2007. I want my son to excel; however, is this what we look forward to? How early should one arrive to a meeting? Since there are two middle schools attending this meeting (GW and BF parents), why not split them up? I announced to my family (elderly mother, son and cat) after almost having a panic attack that I would put my for sale sign up the next day. I pay way too much in property taxes to not have a parking place and I refuse to park illegally just to find out I have a ticket or get towed.

My son is adamant about staying in Ridgewood; now I completely understand why outsiders or even locals have to drive around in circles and their frustration. I live two blocks from downtown, so I never had that problem. RHS needs to have a separate orientation just to address and explain the two parking lots to all mom and dads so we don’t “do it wrong.”

Adriana Blauvelt

Ridgewood

http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-letters-to-the-editor/letter-trouble-finding-parking-at-ridgewood-high-school-1.1497083

Posted on

Ridgewood school board reorganizes

BOE_theridgewoodblog

JANUARY 11, 2016    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2016, 2:27 PM
BY MATTHEW SCHNEIDER
STAFF WRITER |
THE RIDGEWOOD NEWS

Sheila Brogan was reelected as president and Vincent Loncto as vice president during last week’s Ridgewood Board of Education reorganization meeting.

“I just want to thank the board for your support, and I’m so pleased to continue to work with Vincent and all of you,” Brogan said. “It is a real honor to serve this community in this capacity and to be on the board, so I thank you for that and I look forward to the challenges that we have.”

Loncto, who ran unopposed in the November election, also thanked the board for its confidence in him.

“I’d like to echo Sheila’s comments and express my gratitude for the opportunity to serve in this capacity,” Loncto said, adding that he is “honored by the opportunity.”

Loncto was sworn in Monday night to a three-year term.

Schools audited

Mike Andriola, an auditor for accounting and consulting firm Wiss & Company, presented the results of a recent district audit at Monday’s meeting.

Andriola noted that a few mistakes had been made, such as purchasing small amounts of supplies and asking for approval afterward. He said the district also racked up travel expenditures that exceeded the approved maximum.

“They weren’t big dollar amounts; there really weren’t many of them,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything to be overly concerned with.”

Based on his findings, Andriola suggested that the district “strengthen its internal controls,” in order to ensure that nothing is purchased without consent and that over-expenditures are not made.

He also suggested that the district ensure that monetary transfers are made on a monthly basis, so that “any budgetary account lines that are in a deficit balance” are covered.

“I am confident that (the school district is) going to address these and fix them going forward,” he said.

 

http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/ridgewood-school-board-reorganizes-1.1489374