Ridgewood’s schools, unfortunately, have outgrown Ridgewood.

In public education, Ridgewood New Jersey, teachers pay, teachers union on February 27, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Where does one start in a reply to this ridiculously simplistic attempt to blame teachers and teacher salaries for the budget crisis now facing Ridgewood.

Maybe $70 to $100K was an exhorbitant salary back in the day, but it’s not today. Benefits aren’t “free”, they’re part of an overall compensation figure. 2-3 months off in the summer? Which 2-3 months are they? School ends the last week of June and for some teachers and coaches starts on August 15. Raises year-after-year? Last time I checked, a two or three percent raise doesn’t even keep track with inflation in a robust economy.

We can’t place the burden of solving this budget crisis entirely on the backs of teachers. Reforms in some areas? Yeah, we need them, particularly when it’s impossible to get rid of teachers who don’t perform their duties well enough to stay here. Tenure rules need to be scrapped and the better teachers know this is a necessity.

Ridgewood’s schools, unfortunately, have outgrown Ridgewood. We are a sending district for the county for special needs students and it costs Ridgewood taxpayers a boatload. We are required to implement unfunded state mandates developed by bureaucrats who wouldn’t recognize a good idea if it bit them on the nose. Course creep, where we provide hundreds of disciplines in areas of interests for a disproportionately small number of students, needs to be examined. Do we really need to teach specific dialects of langages at RHS?

In the meantime, the physical plant is an unmitigated disaster district-wide, our school athletic fields are an embarassment and the high school doesn’t have a performing arts facility large enough for all parents to see their kids perform.

There are lots of issues here. The teachers are a relatively small one. Certainly class size is even smaller that that.

Martha Stewart for 1-800-Flowers.com

  1. the physical plant is an unmitigated disaster district-wide

    Can you please lay off the hyperbole & hyper-drama?

    If you want to see unmitigated disaster, check out the schools in Paterson or Newark.

    The physical plant of our schools can & should be improved. But this talk of "unmitigated disaster" is simply asinine.

  2. This problem is overwelmingly complex,it would be nice to totaly dismantel the current system and start from scratch.

  3. by the way….2-3% raises on average is pretty normal in corporate America..and that is based on performance…you have to earn that….as a teacher it is automatic by contract….sorry to burst your bubble.
    and I agree with 2:23…there are too many administrators and aides….

  4. Give it up.
    The buck stops at the Board of Ed; which i believe only one is a teacher and he came from the business sector. stop blaming the teachers. Like corporate America the big shots are to blame, including the state who is bound by the decision to wastefully put money in the large cities. take a look at how many anchor babies are included in that. This country is going downhill and it been doing that for decades. As always is Ridgewood will pay for those who cannot and that has nothing to do with tenure. Tenure is a necessary, remember corruption exists even in Ridgewood. The aides are part of the Pubic Law and inclusion. It is you parents who combat the Child Study Team and Courts giving your child an entitled program. Entitlement now that is another issue.

  5. The real problem is the State’s school funding formula, the Abbott School Districts and unfunded mandates. We need to look to Trenton for real solutions. Nothing we can do on a local level will bring about any true relief. Communities such as Ridgewood need to stand together and make a unified stand against Trenton.

  6. ‘Benefits aren’t “free”, they’re part of an overall compensation figure’

    Health benefits …… $8,445,000.00
    School personnel receive salary PLUS Benefits.
    (budget 2008-09 page E10)

    ‘We are a sending district for the county for special needs students and it costs Ridgewood taxpayers a boatload’

    Revenues from Federal Sources:
    I.D.E.A Part B(Handicapped)….$947,761.
    (budget 2008-09 page A3)

    School District Budget Statement for School Year 2008-2009 link:


  7. The original poster might have had the right idea. But the facts to back up his or her claim is down right stupid.

    To say that the fields are in bad shape and the theater is too small is the bain of your post.

    Ridgewood is cutting more of its Parks and REC department staff down or at the very least not replacing retirees. Expect the conditions of the fields to get much worse

    RHS has a little theater, 3 gyms, a cafeteria and a multi-purpose area. I have been in all of these rooms and they are more than enough for a public high school.

    Id much rather spend money of some new books or better classrooms.

  8. Cut every budget by 10%, and then move in with a scalpel. That’s what companies have done.

  9. "Can you please lay off the hyperbole & hyper-drama?"

    Okay, how about facts? There are rats in the boys locker room at BF. The roof leaks at RHS causing, among other things, the growth of mold and mildew. Cracked sidewalks in front of all of the schools cause safety hazards for all who tred on them. Broken glass is all over the "backyard" of Willard. And the space constraints at GW are beyond explanation.

    Hey bro, you're in denial.

  10. The Lacrosse Dads should run the BOE…everything would be better.

  11. 5:24 you are absolutely right. We should appeal to Trenton. Did anyone read the article in today’s RN about standards? Trenton is trying improve the state math standards by increasing the rigor, writing clear and concise student expectations and trying to raise the bar for the whole state. What I find appalling is that our own supervisor for grades 6-12 math, Dan Ilaria supports a group whose efforts are to sabotage the NJDOE’s attempt to improve math and educate our kids to compete in the global economy. Shame on Ilaria, he should be fired for representing our very own district in this outrageous effort to undermine the NJDOE. Finally Trenton is doing something necessary and “math educators” have their sights on their bottom line…. $$$$$ instead of acting on behalf of the children they educate.

  12. 9:54

    If what you say is true, then I will be among the first with a torch and pitchfork at the next BoE meeting. Thank you.

  13. This post illustrates a complete ignorance of the costs that are crippling most public school systems around the country, particularly in NJ, including Ridgewood’s. The unions have priced the teacher’s total compensation and benefits beyond the resources of our town (approximately 80% of the annual budget). On the basis of total compensation and benefit per hour, Ridgewood teachers are among the top 25% of highest paid professionals in the Village. Teachers should be well paid…not overpaid.

    Tenure and mandated raises that exceed the average rate of inflation over the past 10+ years only compound the problem.

    When coupled with the burdens of Abbott District funding, special education funding and outplacement requirements, there is very little left to run the school system and perform necessary maintenance, let alone desired improvements to facilities.

    The unions have one objective…extract as much as they can during every collective bargaining. They have little understanding or appreciation for the needs of a particular school district. These are negotiators from Trenton. One only needs to look at the trouble in Detroit to see where the NJEA is leading us. Enough is enough.

  14. I work with special needs children and have “shadowed” them into mainstream classes. Some,not all can cause a large distraction to the other students. The teacher has to stop what she/he is doing at the time to work with the special needs child.Sometimes it is with school work, but more often than not it is an issue with a behavior problem. This is why it is paramount that an aide be with these children at all time. I have a child in RHS and 1 recent graduate from RHS. I know I would not want these distractions in my children’s classrooms. Many school districts are providing self contained classrooms for “special needs children”. Most of the children that the districts are taking back will not do well in these classrooms either. More often than not the teachers and aids have not had the special training that goes along with the I.E.P requirements for these children. I have seen classrooms where too many different types of learning disabilties are grouped together and always the children who need the most attention are the the ones who are allowed to sit in the back of the room and have no instruction because teachers and aides are afraid of them due to behavior issues. If I were a parent of a special needs child I would make sure that the educational needs of my child were being met and not ignored due to lack of training of the teacher and aids. Most people do not know what happens when working with these children and make statements about sending them off into other districts that have teachers and aides who can hanlde these issues. I suggest to do some research before you make your comments, There are major behavior issues with some, others cannot feed themselves and never will. There are children who still wear dipers and will always wear diapers. Some urinate on themselves, some children cannot drink if they are sitting by themselves, and not to mention the tantrums and aggression,where everyone becomes a target adults and children alike. There are speech issues, physical issues. Just because a child can walk does not mean they should be included in a mainstream school. If I were a parent of a special needs child I would sent that child to a special needs school where the staff is trained and educated to provide what is best for the child and the parents. When corporate executives and not educators start running the school districts that is were the trouble begins. These people are not educators ,the bottom line is always the dollar and not the needs of the special needs children ,their parents, and siblings.

  15. What group is Mr Dan Ilaria representing? and is there a link to this group where his name can be found? If there is I would like to have it so I could go talk to the BOE

  16. 11:13 PM,

    It’s true. Get a copy of this weekend’s Ridgewood News.

    And bring your pitch-fork.

    Personally, I am going to bring a six pack and bounce a beer can off the head of the first BOE member who pipes up to defend this fellow.

  17. The little theater is fine for what the school needs. HS kids with an interest can join outside groups – like athletes joining a club team. The school can’t be the answer to all of the interests for all the students.

    The fields are fine too. We do not need to have the “best” in NJ. Our sports are not suffering. Wants and needs are two different things. How much do the individual sports cost us? I would love to see the cost of the football program compared to other sports and activities at the school.

    Building maintenance is important. All students need adequate classrooms.

    There are good and bad techers – young and old. This is a problem for our schools. The bad ones know who they are and don’t care about the quality of their work. We all know of teachers that no one wants. Parents talk to the principals about the same teachers every year and nothing changes.

  18. Here is the website. Click on “Initial Endorsers” and you’ll find his name, right near Debra Ives.


  19. When the unions negotiate for Ridgewood teachers, they send seasoned professionals. When we negotiate against them, we have our lawyers (on retainer) and… Bob Hutton. Guess what is likely to happen.

  20. It is certainly appropriate to question teaching salaries and administration compensation in light of the following facts:

    (1) Approximately $57M of the $85M 2008-09 budget is teachers salaries and tax-exempt benefits. (Note: this does not count other forms of benefits provided to our staff, such as tuition reimbursement, etc).

    (2) District wide we employ about 550 teachers and 150 “classroom aides.”

    (3) There are 5,500 students in our district. This works out to one teacher salary per 7.8 students.

    Most importantly, (4) Ridgewood is a district that attracts top teaching talent – not for the compensation – but because of the student population, parent involvement, and commitment to excellence.

    My opinion: I feel that we don’t have to pay top dollar to attract great teachers to Ridgewood, so we shouldn’t. If we were able to pay them less, or reduce their untaxed income (medical benefits, tuition reimbursement, etc) they will stay. Unfortunately, the teacher’s union will employ professional negotiators to present their arguments during the contract talks. Their chief “point” is always the same: Teachers in comparative district “x” (and they will have the latest figures on salaries in other districts, because the same professional negotiators that the NJEA sends to the teacher’s union hammered out the contract talks in “comparative district x”) make more money than the teachers in Ridgewood, and that is ‘unfair.’

    Either the BOE will cave or the council will override. Sorry, but those are the facts, and we end up with paying (average) $62,000 (plus full, untaxed benefits) to our teachers for 184 days of work (that’s half-a-year to the rest of us).

  21. 4:02 PM
    I, for one, am sick and tired of those high paid teachers. Their
    hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work nine or ten months
    a year!
    It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they
    do…baby-sit! We can get that for less than minimum wage. That’s
    right……I would give them $3.00 dollars an hour and only the hours
    they worked, not any of that silly planning time. That would be 15 dollars
    a day.
    Each parent should pay 15 dollars a day for these teachers to
    baby-sit their children. Now, how many do they teach in a day….maybe 25. Then
    that’s 15X 25=$375 a day. But remember they only work 180 days a year!
    I’m not going to pay them for any vacations. Let’s see…that’s 375
    x180=$67,500.00 (Hold on, my calculator must need batteries!)
    What about those special teachers or the ones with masters degrees?
    Well,we could pay them minimum wage just to be fair. Let’s round it off to
    $6.00 an hour. That would be $6 times 5 hours times 25 children times 180 days
    =$135,000.00 per year.Wait a minute, there is something wrong here!!!

  22. what is with all the ‘special needs’ students? when i went to RHS in the 70’s, there was ONE class, run by Mr Vanderbush for those who arrived in the ‘short yellow bus’.. so are all these ‘special needs’ offspring of our ‘new arrivals’ who are the most vocal about increasing spending ? It was imperative to get students into the mainstream classes unless they were almost ‘institutional material’. If they cannot be mainstreamed during High school HOW can society expect them to deal with life in the REAL world thereafter? I cannot imagine that the percentage of those in the general population with ‘deficiencies’ has increased that much despite our new arrivals..unless it is a direct genetic dna makeup of 2 liberal parents

  23. 8:16 the website is… http://sites.google.com/site/cmeofnj/Home

    the name of the group is Concerned Math Educators of NJ. Once on their homepage, click on the intial endorsers and see for yourself about Dan Ilaria. Also, you can read it in this past Friday’s Ridgewood News. I’d be curious to know your thoughts about this groups effort to either validate mine or illustrate a different perspective. Thanks, a very concerned tax-payer and parent.

  24. 4:02 PM

    Totally irrational. Its not the calculator, must be that ‘new math’.

  25. It is important that all students learn how to assimilate into regular classes unless they are mentally ill to the point of being institutionalized. And the fault lies within the school system where some self appointed expert says ‘your kid has attention deficit disorder’ or some other fancy clinical diagnosis. That ADD kid needs to get his/her ass into class, and if they fail, they get left back. If their parents want to prevent that, they can hire a tutor. Its not my responsibility to hand-hold my neighbors incorrigible child. Better yet, send the kid to military school. I agree wholeheartedly with 6:49..WHERE DID all of these problem children come from? How did the percentage of ‘special needs’ students rise so dramatically? I suspect its the ‘diagnosis’ rather than real clinical ‘symptoms’. Maybe some of these kids need a a good ‘whooping’ and be forced to ‘toe the line’. If they dont get good grades..then mommy and daddy should take away the cellphone, the SUV, the allowance,the ski vacations, the summer at the beach, etc.. Let them do some attending @ summer school while their freinds are at the beach and that will wip them into shape. It worked in the past, and it will work now. (unless the overpriced ‘special experts’ intervene’ and place them in ‘special needs’ classes to spoon feed them their studies)

  26. I think I just fell in love with a few of the posters on this thread.

  27. Meant 12:20 AM ..(not 4:02PM) $6.00 an hour. That would be $6 times 5 hours times 25 children times 180 days=$135,000.00 per year. Wait a minute, there is something wrong here!

    Irrational, must be that ‘new math’ 🙂

  28. This is why there isn’t money for upkeep of the school and supplies. It is not the teachers or the assistants or the special education.


  29. 3:15 PM says “Its not my responsibility to hand-hold my neighbors incorrigible child.” I guess you missed the federal “No Child Left Behind Act” along with a host of other federal and state laws that require a high level of service to all special needs students. Like it or not “WE THE PEOPLE” have demanded that our elected public officials pass laws that mandate this level of service. AND…. What “WE” demand “WE” have to pay for. My mother always warned me “be careful what you ask for, you might get it”.

  30. Sorry 12:46 AM

    WE didn’t demand any such thing. It was the liberals in Congress led by big, fat Teddy that made it so.

  31. The ADD diagnosis is a teacher’s aide employment act in most instances.

    I remember a noted experiment where a doctor referred a “patient” for psychiatric treatments stating a different medical problem each time. There was nothing at all wrong with the patient and the patient didn’t know which diagnosis the doctor noted for the referral.

    Guess what? Each psychiatrist was able to “verify” the fictitious medical problem after 1 visit and arranged for scheduled weekly therapy sessions to handle it.

  32. Isn’t NCLB a George Bush thing?

  33. The poster that said that Trenton is the problem is correct. School funding in NJ is a joke. The only way that is going to change is radical makeover of the state constitution and government. Since that isn’t going to happen, the best alternative is to seceed and form a new state, one that brings some sense to school funding. Ridgewood and Bergen County in general have been on the short end of the state stick for centuries. Most of the municipalities around here were formed as a result the Borough Act of 1894, which at the core of the legislation, was the issue of local school funding. It’s time to take the next step. Any suggestions for names?

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