An important quantitative indicator that measures education quality is the student-teacher ratio. It makes intuitive sense: more students per teacher means less attention given to each student, and vice versa. Ridgewood’s ratio is 13:1. Not bad.
For Ridgewood, two key factors influence the ratio.First is the ratio of number of households with children to number of households without children. In Ridgewood, there are 8596 households in total. Of that, 4440 or 51.65% of the households are without children. So broadly speaking, for each household that has kids, there is another household who co-funds education.Ridgewood, for a town with a good school system, is an anomaly in this composition. The ratio of households without children for Glen Rock is 49.07%, Tenafly 48.89%, and Millburn 49.55%.
If the composition for Ridgewood converges to that of the other towns, that means far higher enrollment and therefore deterioration in the student teacher ratio. Even if the households without children drops to 50%, still above the average of the other towns mentioned, that would mean 142 households that are likely to have children attending the schools, which points to more than 200 additional kids enrolled. (Based on my quick calculation, there are on average 2 children per household within the category of households with children.)
Bottomline: the residents who live here without children in the system do so because they like the town and they don’t mind helping pay for the school. However, if the school budget grows well in excess of inflation year after year, many in the category would flee.
Another factor to consider is high density build. If additional housing capacity is built, then the chance of jump in enrollment at the school is likely. It doesn’t take far reaching assumption to realize what the jump in enrollment could be. Per every 100 units built and rented, we could possibly see 20 or more new enrollment. My guess is more. You can do your own guessing on this.
As for school expense, cost per student is a useful measure, but what is more indicative is the marginal cost of adding new students to the system. This has to do with capacity. If there is excess capacity, then adding additional students won’t cost the school that much more given fixed costs. However, once the capacity is tapped, adding facilities to accommodate increasing enrollment would require severe jumps in cost and borrowing.
Enrollment bloating beyond capacity is what’s happening to Hackensack: 700 new enrollment is forcing the Hackensack to build a new school, which will cost over $90mm. In the past, adding new wings to schools cost Ridgewood around $5mm per project.
As with all things, balance is important. What Ridgewood has in terms of balance is unique and beneficial to those who have kids in the system both in terms of educational cost and quality. Key is to keep it this way through sound school management, both fiscal and operational.
There any many studies on student-teacher ratio’s link to education quality. This study is that of college students, but still relevant and well-written: https://www.ilr.cornell.edu/…/ilr…/files/WP136.pdf