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Superintendent of Schools Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. “I would like to wish all of you a safe and happy summer “

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Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
It has been an exciting academic school year and I would like to wish all of you a safe and happy summer.
Over the summer, we will be sending out important notifications regarding the new school year. Since Skyward Family Access is our district’s primary mode of communication, we ask that you please take the time now to login to Skyward Family Access and ensure that we have your most recent address, phone and email information. If you need assistance with Skyward, please email [email protected]
Thank you all, and we look forward to seeing you again in the fall.
Congratulations to our Graduating Seniors!
Sincerely,
Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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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

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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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Superintendent of Schools : Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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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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Ridgewood High School Principal Adresses “the Incident “

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Important Message from Dr. Gorman
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November 7, 2017
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Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s) and Students:
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Two weekends ago, a serious situation occurred involving Ridgewood High School students that is still being investigated by the high school administration and Ridgewood Police Department. The investigation will be resolved as quickly as possible and the consequences for those involved will be appropriate, educational, and, if need be, therapeutic. Because the situation involves minors, the details and consequences of the case cannot be shared and will remain confidential. To protect all RHS students, we ask the public to please refrain from comments, speculation, and judgment. Every day we are trusted by the community to educate the children of RHS, supervise them in their activities, and partner with the parents/guardians when they are in need. We ask you to continue to trust us in this situation to be diligent and thoughtful in our investigation and determination.
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The recent altercation that occurred after school hours but on school grounds, is greatly troubling and upsetting to us on many levels. It saddens me and the entire high school faculty that some RHS students did not use their best judgment regarding this situation. This event now gives us all a chance to pause and reflect upon what is truly important in life. We ask all parents/guardians to please engage in a meaningful conversation with their children and encourage them to be open and honest with you and/or the school about anything that may be on their minds.
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At RHS, we pride ourselves on being a family that shares many of the same values – friendship, trust, appreciation, caring, and open and honest communication. Whether as a member of a team, the band, a club, or an academic class, this is the students’ home away from home. We strive to make Ridgewood High School a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
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Unfortunately, some feel that they can say or do whatever they wish when there is no adult watching over their shoulder. Having this kind of attitude pays a disservice to their family, teachers, religious communities, and classmates here at school. Students know better and should expect better. Remember the Platinum Rule – treat others as they wish to be treated. We teach this to our students as soon as they enter our doors and I am sure it is taught in your homes.
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Parents, as adults we need to model responsible use of social media and to refrain from using disrespectful or threatening language online. We cannot expect our children to behave better than we do. What we are learning about this situation is that it centered around the misuse of social media on the part of some students. We ask parents to take an active role in monitoring their children’s use of social media and to partner with the schools to educate our students about this crucial issue.
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Students, when we adults cannot be with you and you are under your parents/guardians’ care, we expect you to uphold the same values that we, here at RHS, and your parents/guardians, have imparted to you. You are responsible for your actions in school and when you are under your parents/guardians’ care after school hours. In addition, we expect you to hold accountable others who are not living up to these same values. As John Wooden, a famous basketball coach, once said, “The truest test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
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Social media posts that are malicious in nature can be psychologically damaging to all parties involved. Any such post should be reported immediately to an adult so that it can be addressed appropriately. We ask students not to participate in any negative chatter online through social media, to help monitor each other, and to stand up when someone fails to adhere to the value system we embrace when in the classrooms, halls, locker room, theater, or on the athletic fields. Finally, we ask you to keep an open and honest line of communication with the adults in this building. We are here to support you.
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Throughout a student’s experience at RHS, he or she will be exposed to many educational programs, academic lessons, and positive values and messages that reinforce what it means to be a RHS student. Such experiences include, but are not limited to, addressing all students at the beginning of each school year about HIB; participating in the #Day1 Tyler Clementi Foundation Upstander Pledge; exploring many student topics with peer counseling through Freshmen F.O.C.U.S.; educating all athletes about sportsmanship; teaching students about the dangers of texting and driving, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and vaping; teaching students through classroom lessons about respect, tolerance, and conflict resolution; and having students listen to guest speakers presenting first-hand accounts of genocide and the Holocaust. These offerings help to foster positive relationships between students and faculty, allowing students to feel comfortable sharing their problems with staff members. We believe that these programs also have reduced instances of bullying at Ridgewood High School.
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The policies and code of conduct that govern the high school are strong and have served us well. However, in light of recent events, we are revisiting them to determine if changes are necessary. Throughout many of the students’ classes at RHS, they are taught the proper protocols of technology and internet safety and responsibility. We will be revisiting these lessons and protocols to determine their effectiveness. We are also working with law enforcement officials to find appropriate future programs that can help further educate our students on the perils of bullying and harassment and how to stop volatile situations before they go too far.
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One of the school’s responsibilities is to ensure the safety and well-being of all the students and staff. When students experience problems, they are encouraged to seek out a teacher, counselor, or grade advisor. In addition to a student’s parents/guardians, these staff members are excellent resources from whom to get assistance on any issue. To ensure student success of all kinds, the school and community must work cooperatively to inspire and implement this shared vision.
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Sincerely,
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Thomas A. Gorman, Ed.D.
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Principal

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Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. Welcome Back

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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.

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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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Ridgewood Superintendent’s Column: On digital citizenship

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Ridgewood Superintendent’s Column: On digital citizenship

MARCH 27, 2015    LAST UPDATED: FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015, 12:31 AM
BY DANIEL FISHBEIN
THE RIDGEWOOD NEWS

Years ago I ran in a local road race that had a very strange outcome.
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Now you are probably wondering why is this guy telling this story? Well, it’s because I innocently signed up for this race as did a few hundred others and found that the organizers of the race gave away or sold that list. We do this same thing all the time when we hit the “Agree” button to get information off the Internet.

We hardly give it a thought when we electronically sign up, email, tweet, use Facebook, post on Instagram and blog as part of our everyday existence. Our lives have improved in many ways with the fast, easy, convenient and mostly free access to information at our online fingertips, whether we are researching directions, restaurant reviews or places to stay, ordering our clothing and books, or keeping track of our bank accounts, our photo albums, our documents.

Such convenience makes it easy to forget that when we log on, we also agree, yes, agree, to hand over access to all types of personal information about ourselves in exchange for that instant line of communication. Our privacy and personally identifiable information is easily shared, as we know from the personalized ads that appear on the sites we search. And yet, we get upset and outraged when the obvious happens, when a breach occurs and our files are hacked, or a company is called out as a spy on an individual.

Just this month, a student in another New Jersey district tweeted out some PARCC testing information. Pearson, the company that developed the assessment, followed its protocol to contact state officials, who then called to inform those school district administrators of a testing breach.

Many people were upset at this chain of events … and so was I … at first. Then I thought about Daniella. Sixteen years ago I had essentially “tweeted” out my personal information when I agreed to run that race, never thinking of the consequences. I did what we have all done dozens, maybe hundreds, of times when we readily fill out an electronic form, order over the phone, search for our next vacation and the like.

We know now that when we order from our favorite online vendor, they remember us. They know how our waist sizes have expanded or shrunk from the last time we ordered, our color preferences, the types of movies we like to watch.

As we move forward, others will know more and more about us because we have either given them this information directly, or granted them permission to access our files. We must hope that they use our personal information ethically, at least that is my expectation, but we must also make every effort to scrutinize to whom we give out our data so that it does not come back to haunt us. We must teach our children the same and pray every night that they’ve listened.

Taking responsibility for technology-based information, and having this conversation with our children, too, is called good digital citizenship. The Ridgewood Public Schools guards our data and only shares with state and federal officials the information that is required by law. We make every effort to teach our students about good digital citizenship and with the beginning next school year, we will teach it more formally through a Digital Citizenship Curriculum, from kindergarten through Grade 12.

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] For more information on the Ridgewood Public Schools visit the district website at www.ridgewood.k12.nj.us or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RidgewoodPublicSchools.

http://www.northjersey.com/opinion/opinion-guest-writers/on-digital-citizenship-1.1296988

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The Ridgewood News Superintendent’s Corner

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The Ridgewood News Superintendent’s Corner
June 2014
by Daniel Fishbein, Ed.D. 

Superintendent of Schools 201-670-2700 ext. 10530 
 (fax) 201-670-2668 
 
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The following column appeared in The Ridgewood News on June 27, 2014.
 
Each June I reflect on the many great opportunities the Ridgewood Public Schools and the  Village of Ridgewood provide our youngest citizens, culminating in the Ridgewood High School  graduation at the close of the school year.