What's Next at Ridge High School?; Fun for Kids and Adults
Most-read stories this week involve issues and finances at the township's high school.
It should be good news that the township school district for 2011-12 been promised almost double the state aid it received for the current school year: About $1.6-million, or a $777,000 increase.
Yet the debate continued at Monday night's meeting, and afterward in comments posted on the Basking Ridge Patch, how the money should best be spent.
The Board of Education, in concurrence with school officials, has tentatively earmarked the extra funding for fixing up school facilities, including roof repairs said to be essential.
Some parents apparently want to see the funding used to restore the nine-period day at Ridge High School for the upcoming school year. The board's previous decision to change to an eight-period day, and the resulting elimination of about eight teaching positions, would save the district about $360,000 next year, and $500,000 or so in the years to follow, after unemployment payments tapered off, Schools Superintendent Valerie Goger said on Monday.
In an email later in the week, the superintendent said that Ridge High School students were nearly finished making up their schedules for the next school year. She said it would be difficult—although not impossible—to switch back to a nine-period day at this point.
"It would be very difficult to revert back to the nine period schedule, but it is possible to do," the superintendent said in the email. "We do not have the ability to schedule a nine and eight period schedule in tandem, although some have commented that they thought our system was capable of doing that. Only one schedule can be built at a time."
Board President Susan Carlsson has pointed out that the $1.6 million is still about half of the state aid the district had been receiving in preceeding years, and there is no guarantee the state will fund the full amount in coming years — or even deliver all of the promised amount for 2011-12.
But resident Fred Douglis said at the meeting, and later, that he does not accept the board's reasoning. "I argued last week and again this week that it makes no sense to kill something today just because you might have to kill it in a year if you don't," Douglis said in a comment on Patch. "By that logic, we might as well sell our houses and leave Bernards because, after all, we might lose our jobs in a year."
The other rationale is that the eight-period day would extend the time students spend in classes for their core subjects.
Also on Monday, school officials said the high school may eliminate mid-terms next year. Some of the reasons mentioned were that cutting out mid-terms would allow more time for instruction, as well as reducing stress for students.
That led to our topic for our weekly Mom's Talk Q&A, "Should Mid-terms be Eliminated at Ridge High School?" Readers posted several views, delving deeply into the pros and cons.
But, after all, there were other subjects to discuss this week. Residents also debated whether the Township Committee is using its funds wisely in a proposal to redo the township's roller hockey rink at Harry Dunham Park. The original ordinance earmarking $180,000 for the job was revised downwards last Tuesday to a project estimated to cost about $125,000. Township officials said they would listen to proposals from the public in coming up with the best way to renovate the rink, closed since last summer.
And everyone has to eat, right? MaryLynn Schiavi's report on the township's health department's online rating of local restaurants and eateries was one of our most popular stories.
We also had a photo story on what likely was one of the most exciting Cub Scout field trips ever—a close-up visit to a demonstration of how Somerset Hills Towing, police, firefighters and rescue workers respond to an accident scene. The demo included a car being lifted by a giant crane, a "victim" being cut out of a wrecked car, pizza and so much more.
For adults, there were other fun events planned for the week, including Casino Night.
And at the end of the week, we decided to include at least one piece about the young Warren woman in our neighboring community whose boyfriend is accused of murdering her. Two residents said they would like to see the Basking Ridge Patch stick to news in Basking Ridge. But, as a major event unfolding next door, the story moved up to being one of our most-read items soon after it was posted.