Ridgewood School Board Confronts Ethics Complaint, College Admissions Trends, and BCA Bus Schedule Concerns

The recent Ridgewood School Board meeting centered around a contentious resolution of censure against Sheila Brogan, the ongoing issues with the BCA bus schedule, and a discussion on college admissions trends. The meeting also covered concerns over academic inclusion, the implementation of alternative career paths for students, and strategies to enhance the competitiveness of students’ college applications.

Sheila Brogan, a member of the School Board, faced an ethics complaint filed by Laurie Weber, leading to the reading of a resolution of censure at the meeting’s onset. Brogan defended her actions, stating the charges were without merit and emphasizing that the ruling was based on perception, not fact. Weber, however, stressed the importance of school ethics laws in preserving public trust and questioned the decision-making process that led to the censure resolution’s omission from the meeting’s agenda.

Also at the forefront of concerns were issues surrounding the BCA bus schedule. Public comments emphasized the unpredictability and early arrivals of the bus, causing stress for students and parents. The need for the bus company to adhere to the published schedule and ensure students weren’t dropped off before the designated time was strongly advocated by several attendees.

The meeting then delved into a detailed presentation on college admissions trends delivered by representatives of the Ridgewood High School administration. The presentation highlighted the increase in college applications, the impact of test-optional policies, and the rising importance of early decision and early action applications. Board members Michael Lembo and Hyunju Kwak participated in a philosophical discussion about the implications of these trends, with a focus on the potential demoralization among students and parents. Lembo underscored the importance of quality over quantity in student extracurricular activities and the significance of college choice based on feeling wanted and valued, rather than brand recognition.

The discussion further explored factors beyond students’ control in college admissions, such as institutional priorities and enrollment management. Money, first-generation status, Pel grant recipients, point of origin, and international student presence were identified as significant considerations in the college application process. The board acknowledged the need for more investment in career readiness and plans to pilot a senior experience program, enabling students to explore different career paths through job experiences and internships.

Academic inclusion, particularly for children with disabilities, was another topic raised during the meeting. Elena Croy highlighted the importance of inclusive education and urged the community to support these initiatives. The board also addressed the drop in NJSLA scores during transitions from fifth to sixth grade and eighth to ninth grade, and the removal of grammar from the middle school curriculum.

The meeting also touched on the impact of private college counseling and the importance of surveying parents to understand their rationale for seeking such services. Superintendent Mark Schwarz highlighted the Senior Focus program’s efforts to prepare students for college applications and explored the possibility of initiating a similar program at the end of junior year.

The board also discussed the messaging around the PSAT and AP exams and the importance of these tests for college admissions and scholarships. The meeting concluded with a call for collecting feedback from graduates to gain insight into their college experiences and to better prepare future students for the transition to higher education.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Mark Schwarz
School Board Officials:
Michael Lembo, Hyunju Kwak, Sheila Brogan, Saurabh Dani, Muhammad Mahmoud

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