Sandra Korn and Katherine Simeon are contributors to Basking Ridge Patch; and until last year, they also were students of Ridge High School. So when they spoke about school cuts in this submitted piece, One Period Too Few: The Harm of Budget Cuts, they had some up-close perspective. They spoke about the loss of teachers, of class periods, and of opportunities for AP classes.
Korn, a Harvard University freshman, and Simeon, who is a freshman at Johns Hopkins University, expressed particular concern about the future of the science program at Ridge High School:
"At the Jan. 10 Board of Education Meeting, Vita Caravias, the mother of a Ridge senior, noted that the extra time her daughter spent with her physics teacher inspired her to pursue the sciences in college. Similarly, like many other Ridge graduates, we have benefited greatly from the excellent science education available at Ridge. Firing teachers and cutting laboratory time will destroy the exceptional science program that now sends dozens of students to top universities for science," the students said in their opinion piece.
And the grads' argument against some of the school board's choices stirred up a lot of discussion. Some readers, like Monica and X, called the piece "excellent," and commended the teens for their input and insight.
Some, like SZ, thought the district had made wise compromises, for instance, in dropping from nine periods to eight: "There are top schools in the state that have an 8 period day - ie. Millburn. Their SAT scores/rankings are higher than Ridge."
And still others, like Clarke thought the cuts needed a major review: "If you take a look at the course catalog for Ridge you will see that there are plenty of places that could be cut without hurting academics one once. Can we really afford orchestra for example?"
Dejuan also questioned the board's priorities in where to make cuts to save money in a tough budget year. "If you have to cut things, it is going to be an incredibly tough choice. But honestly, I am baffled as to how the Board decided that Biology, Chemistry, and Physics were the subjects that were targeted for cuts. Math and Science are probably the last things that should be affected by budget cuts."
"n" wrote: "Welcome to the real world, where you don't get everything you want. So you can't take multiple AP classes, I guess there is a good lesson to be learned, it's called priority. The student will now have to learn to figure out what AP will be more important for them to learn."
Tom Wang, in part, observed: "You know what, you may get to pay a LITTLE less in taxes. But you're going to have to suck it up when the school system declines for your pettiness and you find out your property values fell back to earth. The people of this town have the bright kids that have made our high school one of the best to thank for the property value the high school brings. There's a reason our houses are worth far more in a rough housing cycle than neighboring towns, and it's not the water or the magnificent people."
How do you feel? Has the school board made the necessary decisions, given the loss of millions of dollars in state aid in the last year or so? Do you think that Ridge High School risks damaging its reputation by cutting teachers and reducing the number of school periods from nine to eight periods? Do you believe Ridge has an exceptional science program? Please let us know what you're thinking in the comments section.