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.
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
Ramapo/Indian Hills: 19,479
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