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Ridgewood Schools 2018 Ashby Award and Tradition of Excellence award Presented at the all-staff Convocation

photo courtesy of the Ridgewood School System

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools presented recipient GWMS Guidance Counselor Mike Mullin with the 2018 coveted Ashby Award, and also presented  Somerville School custodian Paul Buscher, with this year’s Tradition of Excellence award. The winners were announced at today’s all-staff Convocation.

( had some difficulties adding the second pic of Paul Buscher , will post a bit later )

 

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Superintendent of the Ridgewood Public Schools : The $110,000,000 2018-2019 budget, will be approved by the Board of Education on May 7

Dan Fishbein 10

The following column appeared in The Ridgewood News on April 27, 2018.

Dare I say that springtime is finally here? The crocuses and daffodils have had to push a bit harder to get to the surface due to some late snowstorms but it seems winter is now well behind us as we move from school closures and delayed openings to the spring sports calendar, Earth Day celebrations and the first barbecues of the season ahead … and yes, cutting the grass.

Along with turning our thoughts to the great outdoors, this is also the time of year in which the Ridgewood Board of Education finalizes and approves the next year’s school budget. For the past several months our administrators have been working to develop a 2018-2019 budget that provides resources for our outstanding instructional and co-curricular programs, our fine staff, and for the maintenance and operations of our facilities. Given rising costs and legal mandates, it is a tall order to put together a fiscally responsible budget but I am happy to say that once again we have succeeded.

The 2018-2019 budget, which will be approved by the Board of Education on May 7 and is approximately $110,000,000, maintains our outstanding staff, upholds and improves our excellent and rigorous academic offerings and supports new initiatives. As detailed in our 2018-2019 budget presentation, next year’s budget will also permit us to add new staff and programs, maintain and continue to upgrade our instructional technology equipment, implement new curriculum at all grade levels and undertake some facility renovations and improvements to school security.

How do we develop the budget? We start the process by creating instructional goals, which focus our work on the budget. Those goals for next year are as follows:

• Build capacity to create and implement authentic growth-based, innovative assessment practices to measure progress and foster student success. We do this through a review and update of curriculum and assessments, through formal and informal observations in classrooms, and by continuing to shift and leverage technology integration and learning environments.

• Continue to build capacity for implementation of interventions and instructional strategies for diverse learners to maximize students’ individual success. Examples of this goal are the two-year training of 21-plus staff members in multi-sensory reading strategies, and also curricular improvements such two new A.P. classes (Physics C and Human Geography) at the high school and many other courses in grades K-12.

• Build capacity to foster student wellbeing by focusing on social/emotional learning as an integral component of student health and achievement. We will do this by replicating our Ridgewood High School therapeutic program at our middle schools, by continuing to grow and infuse mindfulness activities into our classrooms and programs, and by fostering building initiatives like the “Choose to be Nice” programs within our schools. In addition, we are adding significant security measures to improve physical safety for staff and students.

Goals aside, some thoughtful residents have asked whether Ridgewood’s tradition of excellence continues to be upheld over the years. I want to share with you here some basic information taken from New Jersey official reports showing how the Ridgewood Public Schools continue to be effective and efficient:

• SAT and ACT scores: The RHS Class of 2017 had an average SAT score of 1272 and ACT score of 27, which exceed the average New Jersey SAT score of 1103 and ACT score of 23.75 and the average national SAT score of 1060 and ACT score of 21.

• Per pupil spending: Our per pupil spending continues to be significantly lower than surrounding districts. According to the 2016-2017 NJ Department of Education Comparative Spending Guide, Ridgewood came in at $15,119, while for example, Paramus was $18,826, Mahwah $18329 and Tenafly $17,049.

For additional information and commentary, I invite you to take a look at the full 2018-2019 budget presentation, which may be found on the home page of our website at www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us. I would also encourage you to browse through the Program of Studies for the elementary schools, middle schools and high school, which are located on the website under Academics/Departments. I also welcome any questions about the 2018-2019 budget, which may be emailed to [email protected]

The Ridgewood community is a critical partner in financing our mission of educational excellence. Due to the manner in which the State of New Jersey funds schools, the majority of our school funding is generated through the local property tax. Our proposed total budget for 2018-2019 of $110,167,997 will add $250.71 to the local tax bill on the average-assessed Ridgewood home.

In closing, the Ridgewood Public Schools continue to be fiscally prudent and efficient as well as educationally successful. For your support of the budget through taxes, and for the community’s further generous donations that this year exceeded one million dollars for curricular and co-curricular programs, I am grateful.

As always, please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns.

Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D., is Superintendent of the Ridgewood Public Schools

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Village Council Candidate Speaks At Ridgewood High School

Alexandra Harwin

file photo by Boyd Loving

March 13,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, village council candidate Alexandra Harwin spoke at Ridgewood High School. No other candidates or councilmembers were invited , Ms Harwin spoke about running for council in Ridgewood  for a full 40 minutes asking the kids for their addresses to post yard signs of her candidacy .

When questioned by angry parents superintendent of Schools Daniel Fishbein said in an email , “this is a student run organization. It appears that you may know one or more of the students who are part of the organization, based on your knowledge of their ages. I suggest that you or other village council members reach out to see if they can be invited. As I stated, this is a club activity and not an academic class. ”

Funny that no sitting council member with experience  has been asked , yet a new candidate who has been to one council meeting for a total of 50 minutes is now an expert. Its also another interesting use of the taxpayer funded $105,000,000 Ridgewood School budget . And interesting to watch a Village Council candidate bully children into compliance.

All the moms  who questioned the events have asked to remain anonymous and are concerned about being booted from Home & School Association membership if their names are exposed regarding this matter .

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Superintendent of Schools : Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

turkeys

The following column appeared in The Ridgewood News on November 24, 2017.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

It’s been quite a month in our idyllic community. Faced with the fallout from a serious student incident that occurred on district property after school hours, our Village has been challenged to ponder some equally serious questions. How is that Ridgewood children chose to resolve their issues with serious physical violence rather than civil mediation? Why did bystanders feel motivated to record the incident rather than rush to intervene? What part did social media play in fueling the dispute and shaping the community’s reactions, rumors, rants and pointing of fingers?

Importantly, too: With the investigation now completed and behind us, where do we go from here? How can this incident be used as an opportunity to do better?

We are asking all of those questions at the school district level, starting by examining our student policies, as you already have heard us say. I invite you to look at the policies, especially 5512, which covers Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying, and also 5600, our Student Discipline Code of Conduct. The policies, which also detail how often they are revised, may be found on our website at www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us.

As important as the policies are, to a large extent examining them is the not-so-difficult part of the task ahead. I say this because policies are generally rules for dealing with the aftermath of incidents or instructions in how to do certain things, and we are equally intent on finding ways to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place.

Equally important is the need for all of us as individuals, as parents and guardians, mentors and coaches, residents and neighbors, to ask the above questions of ourselves. Such incidents challenge us to examine our own personal policies and behaviors, to look at how we can do better at modeling the behaviors we want our children to adopt as they grow into mature adults and assume the responsibilities as our society’s leaders of tomorrow.

For the most part, I think it’s fair to pat ourselves on the back. We do a terrific job in this community of raising responsible kids, and that is because we really are good people ourselves. We clearly have big hearts that are in the right place, proven by the endless list of ways we teach our children to try to make a difference. The full coin jars for hurricane relief, overflowing shoe collections for the needy, piles of coats and bags of groceries that are regularly collected, successful Pink Outs and Pajama Days for worthy causes, all point to the success of our parents and guardians, our teachers and administrators, in modeling strong values that align with Thanks and Giving, a favorite theme of mine and so many others at this time of year.

So how is it that a community so good at doing Thanks and Giving is facing such difficult questions at the moment? While I do not have that answer, nor the answers to the other challenging questions above, I will suggest that just as Thanks and Giving are important to our health and wellbeing as individuals and members of society, the practice of for-giving is vital, too.

Forgiveness. It takes humbleness and swallowing of pride and can be difficult. But as we know, forgiveness is also a very cathartic act, as well as the foundation for reconciliation, which is why we teach our children to say they are sorry from their earliest days.

At this time of Thanksgiving and the beginning of the magical holiday season when there is always much talk about counting our blessings and peace on earth, I’d like to encourage us all to think about forgiveness, too. It just may help us move forward, to grapple as a community with our issues in an honest and loving way.

I maintain hope that this incident and our reflections together will result in shaping us into even worthier citizens, an even stronger community, and yes, ultimately a better world that lives in peace.

Go Cowboys! And remember the Kelly Creegan Foundation’s annual Coat Drive this Saturday at Graydon parking lot!

As always, please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. Welcome Back

RHS

The following column appeared in The Ridgewood News on September 29, 2017.

Welcome to the new school year! We got off to a great start on September 6, hit our stride early on, and continue to enjoy a positive energy in all our schools.
As is the case each year, credit must be given for our strong start and smooth transition to the effort this summer of many administrators, teachers and support staff who worked hard to ensure that our programs and buildings were in top shape when the opening bell rang. From important changes in our curricula and programs to the hiring of several new staff, from facility projects across the district to technology improvements and implementation, we had a very busy and successful summer.

Here is a snapshot from my Opening of School Report, which may be read in its entirety on the district website at www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us:
• We welcomed 5766 students on the first day of school.
• New or revised curriculum was written for 74 courses.
• At Ridgewood High School, new courses were added to the Business, Science, Computer Science and Technology departments.
• Newly hired for 2017-2018 are 49 staff members, representing either new positions due to enrollment or initiatives, or replacements for employees that resigned, retired, or are on leave.
• Renovations across the district included floor tile asbestos abatement, new flooring, painting, electrical work, new bathroom partitions and window replacements. Additional facility projects were completed at each school that ranged from boiler replacements through our Energy Savings Improvement Plan (ESIP) and state-of-the-art drinking fountain replacements featuring water filters and filling stations, to remodeling for the implementation of full-day Kindergarten.
• Technology upgrades in classrooms and buildings, and improvements to building security were completed.

As we prepared to open our doors, schools in other parts of our nation were either temporarily shuttered or transformed into emergency shelters in preparation for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Thankfully the devastation was far from Ridgewood, yet I am very happy to report that our schools still sprang into action to help, so that on opening day coin jars for the American Red Cross hurricane relief efforts were prominently on display and filling rapidly in every building. Also there were Soles 4 Souls collection boxes. What a great reminder that our education program goes beyond academics, that we continually seek out opportunities for humanitarian service so that our students may grow their character as well as their minds, and that we can help them learn the value of global citizenship. These things are a critical part of what we do, too.

Last year at this time your Board of Education turned its attention to the goal of implementing full-day Kindergarten in the district, which was approved by Ridgewood voters last November. This September, after remodeling classrooms, writing curriculum and hiring teachers, we joined the majority of New Jersey’s public districts when we welcomed our first full-day K classes. There are several key factors in favor of full-day K, notably the ability to provide more time in the daily schedule for structured play experiences designed to reinforce learning. It is exciting to see our mission of excellence at work in the classrooms of our youngest students, who are now presented with an even stronger opportunity to effectively learn and thrive than ever before.

Another project from last school year, the May 2017 parent-guardian survey report was presented at the September 25 Board meeting. The fifth district-wide satisfaction survey since 2010, the results this time around are again quite positive in areas ranging from the quality of our educational programs to satisfaction with the school facilities, extracurricular offerings, communications and the Chromebook initiative. Thank you to the nearly 31 percent of our parents and guardians who took the time to complete the survey. Your input supports our ongoing efforts to review and refine our programs and practices. Survey results for all schools and the district are posted on our website.

There’s an upcoming opportunity for residents to meet with the Board and me to informally discuss the survey, full-day K, or any other school-related topic of interest to you. On Wednesday night, October 18, we’ll have the coffee brewing at the Education Center, 49 Cottage Place, from 7-8:30 p.m. for the first of three dates set for Coffee and Conversation this school year. Our work requires the support of our broader community and we are appreciative of your trust, enthusiasm and financial commitment to our mission of excellence. We’d like to know you better, so please drop by on October 18 with your questions, suggestions and concerns.
Thanks to all, we are off to a great start to the 2017-2018 school year. I look forward to updating you throughout the upcoming months on all things Ridgewood Public Schools.
As always, please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns.

Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D., is Superintendent of the Ridgewood Public Schools. Dr. Fishbein can be reached at 201-670-2700, ext. 10530, or via e-mail at [email protected]

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Ridgewood Public Schools does not tolerate any acts of hate or negative speech in our buildings or on our property.

RHS_Sign_theridgewoodblog

Dear Parent or Guardian,

The recent events in Charlottesville have compelled me to write to you this afternoon. The horrific and
vile images on our screens emphasized the unfortunate and misguided behavior of real people with real
hate in their hearts towards others who look or believe differently from themselves.

Having watched those expressions of hatred and violence with horror and disbelief, I want to stress to
you and reassure you that the Ridgewood Public Schools does not tolerate any acts of hate or negative
speech in our buildings or on our property. Our district is a community of people from many different
backgrounds, nationalities, beliefs and protected classes, and we insist that our students and staff
practice tolerance and respect at all times through clearly articulated goals for respectful and inclusive
behavior. We also go one step further, by finding ways to highlight and celebrate both differences and
similarities.

As we ready for the opening of school and a peaceful and welcoming start to a new year, I encourage
you to talk about the school environment in your discussions with your family about the recent events in
Charlottesville. Please know that we are here to assist you and feel free to reach out to your child’s
principal, or to me, at any time.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.
Sincerely yours,
Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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Superintendent of Schools comments on the Ridgewood Schools $105 million budget

Dan Fishbein 10

May 9,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools comments on the Ridgewood Board of Education $105 million budget :

Spring is a time of abundance, with buckets of rain, sprouts of new foliage and flowers and pollen, and oh yes, the realities of tax returns and in the case of school districts, budgets.
 
Each year the Ridgewood Board of Education works hard to develop a budget for the following school year that provides for our exceptional instructional and co-curricular programs, as well as the maintenance and operations of our facilities.
 
The budget for the 2017-18 school year, which was approved on May 1 by the Board of Education, allots approximately $105 million to maintain our excellent staff, uphold our rigorous academic offerings, and support new initiatives. Next year’s budget will allow us to add new staff, maintain and upgrade instructional technology equipment, implement a new K-5 Science curriculum and other new or revised courses at the middle and high school levels, launch full-day Kindergarten and undertake a variety of renovation projects around the district.
 
The numbers tell the story.
 
The excellence of our academic, athletic, arts and social/emotional programs in our elementary, middle and high schools is regularly proven by the consistent high reach that our students achieve in nationally recognized programs and tests.
 
Statistics from Ridgewood High School – high ranking by US News and World Report – exemplify how we excel as a district. Our students perform very well on all measures, having for example, seven finalists, nine semi-finalists and 70 commended students in the National Merit Scholarship program over the last two years.
 
In the SAT and ACT, our class of 2016 performed at a very high level.
                                   SAT                                    ACT
           RHS                1759                                    26
           NJ                   1520                                    23.1
           USA                1490                                    21
 
On the AP exams, over 80 percent of our students scored 3 or higher and 134 students were named AP Scholars by the College Boards.
 
Over 95 percent of our Class of 2016 pursued a college or university education this past fall, with 84 percent of their chosen schools classified as competitive, more competitive, or most competitive.
 
And while academics are extremely important, excellence requires breadth in programming. We also provide a very full range of co-curricular and extra-curricular programs that includes fantastic fine and performing arts programs, 29 very successful sports programs and over 100 clubs and activities.
 
Excellence has a price.
 
Simply stated, our ability to offer the variety and depth of services and programs and make an impact in our students’ lives requires a budget of $105 million dollars.  The standard of excellence for Ridgewood students is a costly endeavor, yet an excellent investment in their future.
 
In fact, the State of New Jersey has determined that the 2016-2017 per-pupil cost of a Ridgewood education is $15,119, which is a relatively low per-pupil expenditure when compared to our neighboring districts and others across the state.  Let’s take a look:

Bergen Academies: 27,852
Northern Valley — Old Tappan / Demarest:19,964
Princeton: 19,964
Ramapo/Indian Hills: 19,479
Teaneck: 9,922
Tenafly: 17,049
State of New Jersey: 15,714
 
We couldn’t do it without you.
 
Especially as the majority of the budget is funded by our resident taxpayers, you might want to know that next year’s cost to homeowners is an additional yearly increase of $11 per $100,000 assessed home value. As a reference point, the average assessed Ridgewood home of $696,093 will see a tax increase of $76.56.
 
It is important for me to say thank you for your continued support of our schools, programs and students. The Ridgewood community is a critical partner in our mission of excellence, from the budget that you support through taxes, to the co-curricular and extra-curricular programs that cannot exist without the additional funds that you regularly raise through parent organizations such as HSAs, Booster clubs, individuals and organizations.
 
We are also particularly fortunate and grateful to our large organizational donors such as The Foundation and The Valley Hospital, hose large gifts supplement the budget and help ensure our ability to enhance our schools and the educational experience of every Ridgewood student.
 
We want to hear from you.
 
It’s great that I often receive emails or phone calls from residents who have questions, suggestions and, yes, even criticisms on day-to-day and larger issues affecting the Ridgewood Public Schools. I always welcome that one-on-one dialogue. This year, we are also seeking more formal feedback from our parents and guardians, who’ll be e-mailed our biennial satisfaction survey on May 8.
 
We do this survey every two years to gather data on how we are doing in our schools and as a district. Our last survey in 2015 received a 35.6% response rate, and while this number is very good, we want to beat it this year. Please know that your input is important and valued, so I do hope you will take a few minutes to complete the survey when it arrives in your inbox.  
 
Soon the rains will stop, the flowers will be in full bloom and we’ll be relaxing in our yards and enjoying the green spaces in our beautiful village.  However, the grass isn’t growing under our feet! We are already planning for the 2017-2018 school year, when will welcome the inaugural full-day kindergarten class… the future RHS Class of 2030!  Ouch… that number hurts!
 
As always, please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns

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Reader says our esteemed superintendent of Schools should keep his eye on the job he is paid to do

Ridgewood Police at RHS

file photo by Boyd Loving

Yes, I too would ask our esteemed superintendent to keep his eye on the job he is paid to do.

I did not appreciate this letter, I am well aware of his political leanings and do not wish for them to be taught to my child.

Did he write letters like this in the past when the candidate he voted for was in office?

I am hoping that the BOE will shut down Fishbein’s political commentary – both in his letters and his tweets and retweets.

He can dance around a topic such as this as much as he wants BUT he is being political.

Sure, he never mentioned Trump but we all know what he is talking about.

How about teaching our kids to toughen up, not fall apart when their candidate loses, respect leaders and process even when you don’t like it and work for respect rather than expect it —– that would be a better education than they are currently getting!

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Are Ridgewood Schools truly a “melting pot” , or is this another Solution Looking for a Problem ?

Dan-Fishbein-10

Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff:

Over the past year, we have all become aware of an increase in vocalized negative rhetoric concerning immigrants and foreign-born visitors to the United States. This problematic discourse has led to a corresponding buildup of concern and uncertainty for many, including for some of our own Village students and their families.

I feel that it may be helpful to remind everyone that our Ridgewood schools welcome and embrace children from all over the world, who by federal, state and local law are guaranteed equal access to an education. Our student database shows that we are truly a “melting pot,” with children from the following countries:

Albania Egypt Lebanon South Africa Australia El Salvador Malaysia Spain Bahrain Ethiopia Mexico Sri Lanka Bangladesh France Monaco Sweden Belarus Germany Netherlands Switzerland Belgium Guatemala Northern Mariana Islands Syrian Arab Republic Bermuda Honduras Pakistan Taiwan Bolivia Hong Kong Panama Turkey Brazil India Peru Ukraine Bulgaria Iran Philippines United Arab Emirates Canada Ireland Poland United Kingdom China Israel Puerto Rico United States Costa Rica Italy Romania Uruguay Czech Republic Japan Russian Federation Uzbekistan Denmark Kazakhastan Saudi Arabia Venezuela Dominican Republic Korea Singapore Vietnam

Far beyond our legal and moral responsibilities for educating all children, the Ridgewood Public Schools have a long and proud history of incorporating and celebrating the diverse cultures of our student body into our regular curricular programming. From the annual Asian Festival held at Ridgewood High School each spring, to the International clubs at the middle school level, and down to International Day at our elementary schools, we affirm our respect and admiration for other nationalities in large ways. We are fortunate to have numerous families and community members from other countries who are willing and eager to share their traditions and we are enriched by the numerous opportunities they give us to learn firsthand about other cultures and beliefs.

Through these opportunities, we are also able to teach our children about tolerance and respect for the dignity of every being. Of course, as we are all prone to making mistakes on occasion, we also have a longstanding official policy of zero-tolerance for prejudice and disrespect that is strictly enforced if the need arises.

In sum, long before the recent uptick in negative rhetoric on immigration issues, inclusivity has been a top priority in the administration of our schools. We have worked hard to be inclusive and we will always continue to work even harder to make all students and their families feel welcome and valued in the Ridgewood Public Schools.

I conclude with the meaningful words found at the base of the Statue of Liberty, that wonderful symbol of welcome to visitors and immigrants from afar:

The New Colossus Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! Emma Lazarus (November 2, 1883) 

If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to reach out to your child’s principal or me.

Sincerely yours,

Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools
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The 2016 Ashby Award and Tradition of Excellence Award Go to Two Ridgewood High School Veterans

Photo: (from L) John Domville, Daniel Fishbein, Jeffrey Nyhuis

Photo: (from L) John Domville, Daniel Fishbein, Jeffrey Nyhuis

September 2,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, The 2016 Ashby Award and Tradition of Excellence Award were announced at Staff Convocation on September 1. Two RHS veterans, Assistant Principal Jeffrey Nyhuisand now-retired History Teacher John Domville were co-recipients of the Ashby Award. The Tradition of Excellence Award for support staff went to now-retired RHS secretary Sue Wasserman.