Waving Flag Education
Richard's Picture
Skip Navigation Links



As a past elected trustee and president of the Ringwood Board of Education, I can express my personal opinions on education here but nothing expressed should be considered Ringwood Board of Education opinion or policy.  These opinions are mine and mine alone and are expressed to keep Ringwood taxpayers informed about how their tax dollars are being used to educate our children.  My discourse is designed to maintain a high level of education in Ringwood, not to make friends.

In October, 2011, I was close to completing my 4th consecutive term for the Ringwood Board of Education when I left the board for personal reasons.  With 12 years of experience in Ringwood education, I hope that Ringwood taxpayers realize the extent of my dedication to the educational system in Ringwood.  I consistently fought for the highest quality education for the lowest possible cost. 

Over the last few years we've experienced some increase in class size which is not good.  When I went to elementary school, I had 31 or 32 students in each of my classes.  I daydreamed and stared out the windows all day.  I eventually quit high school after many summers of going to summer school to make up for failed classes.  In my mid 20's I had an awakening of some sort and I went back to school and earned my GED.  I followed that up with Bachelor's (3.85 GPA) and Master's Degrees (4.0 GPA) earning Summa Cum Laude honors for both degrees.  I also became a member of Mensa, the High IQ Society.  I guess my teachers with the large class sizes failed me or at least could not devote the time to me that I undoubtedly needed.  Years later, if it was not for my own innate strength and capabilities, I may never have made anything of myself and I definitely would not have gone to college.  I drifted through school with undiagnosed AD/HD.  Although my education was in Experimental Psychology, I undertook a very satisfactory career in hi-tech engineering management.   I was fortunate; I only lost a handful of years of my life.  This is a prime example of why I see small class size as so important today.  We need to give our students the best chance they can have at succeeding in school, college and life.

The most difficult situation that Ringwood education faces is trying to provide a high-quality education at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.  The state is constantly interfering with the district’s right to self-rule via new legislation that it is passing.  A few years back, during the 2010-2011 school year, the governor proposed a cut in state aid that was in excess of $1,000,000 for Ringwood.  In addition, the Ringwood Board of Education was confronted with an increase in health benefits greater than $500,000.  After these hardships, Ringwood Borough cut our failed budget by an astonishing $417,000 for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.  Ringwood started the school year with $2,000,000 less than we would have expected.  These cuts left Ringwood Education in a sorry state.  The New Jersey Governor is funneling resources and personnel into his vendetta with teachers and education.  What these poor fools don't understand is that all of these cuts negatively impact education for Ringwood students, but have no impact on teacher's salaries.  Since the 2010-2011 school year, most of the state aid was restored, but the costs in health benefits continues to rise and we will never make up for the $417K cut by then mayor Ted Taukus.  Today, in 2017, this is the seventh year since the Taukus cut which amounts to over 3.0M that the Ringwood school district has lost on that cut thus far.  That cut will never be given back to the district and will continue to deplete the school budget for years to come.  We've managed to hold class size relatively steady, but that won't last indefinitely.

A more recent budgetary fiasco was the implementation of full-day kindergarten in Ringwood.  This project was never effectively evaluated and the financial source for the funding was not adequately studied or planned.  Today, the 2016-2017 budget is severely underfunded with drastic cuts expected in the very near future.  Back around the mid to late 2000s the Superintendent of the Ringwood school system performed a study on the effectiveness of full-day kindergarten versus half day classes.  The study showed a small advantage for the full day classes in grades 1 and 2, however, any advantage for the full-day classes disappeared by grade 4.  The full-day kindergarten program should be dismantled in Ringwood and the savings used to maintain competent, full time staff.  The alternative may be outsourcing for secretaries, paraprofessionals, and maintenance workers.  This alternative would send the Ringwood district spiraling downward into an abyss of increasing inefficiency and ineffectiveness.  Do you want the security of your school relying on the skills of a $10.00 per hour short term out-of-district, out-sourced employee with no community involvement nor commitment?  By the time an out-sourced individual learns the responsibilities of a position in a school, they will be moving on to another position or school.

Let's look at a teacher's salary.  Ringwood, in the recent past, had quite a few senior teachers retire due to Governor Christie's scare tactics.  These teachers had more than 30 years of experience and a couple had as much as 40 years.  Many retirees with 30 to 40 years of service had a Master's degree plus 45 credits.  That's the equivalent of two Master's degrees or virtually equivalent to a Ph.D.  I don't see any problem with a teacher with 35 years of experience and a Master's Degree plus 45 credits making over $100K.  These teachers are not overpaid.  An engineer with a Master's or even a Bachelor's Degree can make well in excess of $100K with 30 years of experience.  Why shouldn't teachers?  Over the last 10 to 12 years Ringwood has changed from a district that was top heavy with highly paid senior experienced teachers into a young district with many lower salaried minimally experienced teachers.  While these newer teachers are effectively teaching our children, I can't help but wonder if the loss of all that experience has impacted the district.

The state may try to force Ringwood, Wanaque, and Lakeland Regional High School to regionalize (consolidate) into a single school district.  Historically, this concept has also been pushed for by the Passaic County Superintendent of Schools and the Lakeland Board of Education.  The push from the state is dramatically reduced over the past few years, but it may heat up again and I remain firmly committed against regionalization and I will support the Ringwood district in its fight against regionalizing.  When all the aspects of regionalization are examined, it is likely that the costs after regionalization will exceed current costs.  We might consolidate the superintendent positions with regionalization, but each of the sending districts would want their own Assistant Superintendent adding to the head count.  Ringwood residents are proud of our school system and our teachers and we do not want to see any changes in an efficiently working system.

Finally, we get to the Ringwood assistant superintendent.  Our current assistant superintendent is a highly competent, highly qualified individual.  She would probably be successful as a superintendent in her own right, but her skills are being wasted as an assistant superintendent in Ringwood.  We've had this competent individual for quite a few years with no really effective position for her.  It appears that the assistant superintendent position was created for her because she is so qualified and there was no place else to effectively put her.  The assistant superintendent position should be eliminated and the person in the job should be put into an educational position where she can be most effectively utilized.  Her skills, at this time, are being wasted in a small district like Ringwood where there is no need for both a superintendent and an assistant superintendent.  I personally would like to see her running our gifted and talented program which she once did in the past.  I'm sure there are a number of educational positions that could use her skills.



Home | Biography | Interests | Education | Taxes | Photo Gallery | Favorites | Downloads | Feedback