the staff of the Ridgewood
Ridgewood NJ, since this came up in the last Village council election we thought we would embark on an local civics lesson . Contrary to the misinformation campaign ,the Ridgewood Village Council does not control nor is responsible for school budgets, policy or funding of Ridgewood public schools . It has no say and former Mayor Knudsen had nothing to do with the lack of voter participation in school board elections.
The Ridgewood school budget is in the area of $110,000,000 and yes that is huge . That budget accounts for over 60% of the Village’s property taxes .
From the Ridgewood School website :
About the Board
About the Board/Frequently Asked Questions
What is the role of the Board of Education?
The Board of Education does not “run” the Ridgewood Public Schools. That’s the job of the Superintendent. Rather, the BOE’s job is to ensure that the schools are well run. The Board does this by
1) Setting district policies and goals
2) Communicating policies and goals to the superintendent
3) Overseeing the budget
4) Hiring and evaluating the superintendent
5) Serving as the communications link between the community and the school district.
What is the role of the superintendent?
The Superintendent’s responsibilities fall into three areas:
1) Primary advisor to the Board of Education
The superintendent briefs the board on district issues and provides updates on district operations as well as background information, alternatives, suggestions, and recommendations before Board decisions are made. The superintendent may ask other district staff to attend board meetings to give reports on particular items.
2) Chief Executive Officer of the school district
Responsible for administering the policies adopted by the school board and for running the school system on a daily basis. The superintendent is accountable to the board regarding how well the district is run.
3) Educational leader of the community
It’s the superintendent’s job to evaluate and assess how district policies are being implemented at all levels. The superintendent ensures that all issues on an agenda for board action are accompanied by his/her recommendation, including staff input and study when necessary. The superintendent also acts as the liaison to the Board for all district employees.
What happens at Board of Education meetings?
At public meetings, the Board of Education takes official action on school business, discusses policy and confirms personnel appointments recommended by the superintendent. Board members have the opportunity to discuss items prior to voting on official agenda items. At every public meeting of the Board, there are two opportunities for the public to address the Board.
Where and when can I get minutes from a previous Board of Education meeting?
Minutes of public Board of Education meetings are available on the district website (click here), at the Ed Center at 49 Cottage Place. Board minutes are presented for approval at subsequent Board meetings, in order to be voted into the public record.
Where can I get a copy of an upcoming Board of Education meeting agenda?
Board of Ed agendas are available on the District website (click here) on Friday afternoon prior to the meeting. The agenda is also posted at the Ed Center at 49 Cottage Place by Monday afternoon prior to the meeting.
How and when may I address the Board during a Board of Education meeting?
The Board seeks public comment twice during each regular public meeting. The first opportunity for comment is at approximately 7:30 p.m. under the agenda item “IV. Comments from the Public.” The presiding officer (usually the Board president) may limit public comments to conclude at 8:00 p.m. in order for the Board to continue with its scheduled agenda. Later in the meeting, at approximately 9:00 p.m., there is a second opportunity for public comment under the agenda item “IX. Comments from the Public.” The time may be adjusted at the discretion of the presiding officer, taking into consideration a break point in the agenda.
Persons wishing to speak must, upon being recognized, approach the podium, state their name and address and also write their name and address on the sheet at the podium. Each speaker shall be limited to four minutes. The Board Recorder will note the time. A speaker who has not finished in the allotted time will be directed by the presiding officer to summarize quickly and relinquish the floor within 30 seconds.
The public is invited to address the Board on any topic regarding the school district, both subjects on the agenda or general topics. Comments should be limited to issues. If personal remarks or discourteous statements are made, the presiding officer shall require the speaker to stop. No person will be recognized for a second time until all others asking to speak have been heard.
Why does the Board go into closed Executive Session?
The Ridgewood Board of Education may meet in closed Executive Session prior to, or at the end of, a regular public meeting. In accordance with the New Jersey Open Public Meetings Act (aka the “Sunshine Law”), closed Executive Sessions are not open to the public. Although debate may be private, any action taken must be in public session. The Board will indicate that “action may be taken” when they return to public session and before the meeting is adjourned.
Only items that fall under the following topics may be discussed during closed Executive Session:
Collective bargaining agreements/proposals or other contracts
Matters confidential by law
Items protected by attorney-client privilege
Matters of individual privacy
Specific pending or anticipated litigation
Purchase or lease of real estate
Protecting public safety
How is the Board of Education selected?
Members are elected to three-year terms by the local voters. School board elections are in November. Board members elected in November will be sworn in and take their seats at the Reorganization meeting in January.
If a vacancy occurs between elections, the current Board will appoint a new board member to serve until the next election. Appointed members will be sworn in and take their seats at the next regular public meeting of the Board.
What are the legal requirements to become a Board member?
To become a member of a local Board of Education in New Jersey, you must:
Be able to read and write
Hold U.S. citizenship and one year’s residency in the school district
Have no interest in any contract with, or claim against the Board
Not hold office as mayor or member of the municipal government body, or in the case of county school districts, the county governing body
Be registered to vote in the district
What is the Board member’s Code of Ethics?
All school board members in New Jersey are required to abide by the following Code of Ethics for School Board Members:
a. I will uphold and enforce all laws, rules and regulations of the State Board of Education, and court orders pertaining to schools. Desired changes shall be brought about only through legal and ethical procedures.
b. I will make decisions in terms of the educational welfare of children and will seek to develop and maintain public schools that meet the individual needs of all children regardless of their ability, race, creed, sex, or social standing.
c. I will confine my board action to policy making, planning, and appraisal, and I will help to frame policies and plans only after the board has consulted those who will be affected by them.
d. I will carry out my responsibility, not to administer the schools, but, together with my fellow board members, to see that they are well run.
e. I will recognize that authority rests with the board of education and will make no personal promises nor take any private action that may compromise the board.
f. I will refuse to surrender my independent judgment to special interest or partisan political groups or to use the schools for personal gain or for the gain of friends.
g. I will hold confidential all matters pertaining to the schools which, if disclosed, would needlessly injure individuals or the schools. In all other matters, I will provide accurate information and, in concert with my fellow board members, interpret to the staff the aspirations of the community for its school.
h. I will vote to appoint the best-qualified personnel available after consideration of the recommendation of the chief administrative officer.
i. I will support and protect school personnel in proper performance of their duties.
j. I will refer all complaints to the chief administrative officer and will act on the complaints at public meetings only after failure of an administrative solution.
If I have a question or concern about something in the district, whom should I contact?
If you have a concern, we encourage you to talk first with the teacher or principal, next the department supervisor, then the assistant superintendent, and finally the superintendent. Should the superintendent be unable to resolve a problem, and it involves district policy, school board meetings and agenda items, the budget or requests for specific courses or programs, the Board of Education is the final step in the process. Please remember that all personnel items should be referred directly to the administration.
What are the best ways to communicate with the Board of Education?
To communicate with the Board as a whole, we invite members of the public to attend a regular public meeting and share your ideas and thoughts during the public comments period. You may also write a letter to the Board President, care of the Ed Center, which will be shared with other Board members. Individual Board members can be reached via email