Testimony to Assembly Budget Committee
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Given by Rosie Grant, Executive Director
Good Morning Assembly Budget Committee members. Thank you for this opportunity to speak.
We are grateful to Governor Murphy for the $13 million increase in next year’s State aid. $10 million of this amount will be immediately paid out to charter schools and Passaic County Technical Institute, in effect resulting in a $3 Million increase over the current year’s operating budget. It’s important to note here that
fixed costs for next year will increase by $43 million.
After raising taxes and using all the banked cap, resulting in a 14% tax increase, the district was left with a $22 million shortfall.
The balanced preliminary budget that was adopted under duress this week will require massive cuts, including the elimination of 232 staff members and vacancies, 150 of which are teachers. Programs that were established to meet priority needs will be cut to the tune of $52 million.
These cuts will devastate the Paterson Public Schools. Kids will lose Arts and Music instruction, these are core subjects, not add-ons. Media specialists will be reassigned to the classrooms and schools will be without nurses in a known asthma corridor. Every school supervisor position will be eliminated. Schools with 1,000 or more kids will have only 1 vice principal and no supervisors.
Last year, PEF participated in a National Equity Audit with the Journey for Justice Alliance. A snapshot of the report “Failing Brown v Board” is attached. The Paterson case study on pages 88-91 just begin to show the inequities. These Paterson students have access to 5 AP courses while their suburban peers have 15. 14 v 23 computer science courses. 7 v 15 sciences. 3 v 11 music and the list goes on.
Due to many years of underfunding, Paterson is well behind when it comes to providing a “Thorough and Efficient Education” as mandated by the NJ
constitution. This budget will set our children even further behind. Proven best practices are being implemented and are showing real results. Sadly, these will all be eliminated unless we can get additional state aid.
Please help our children by providing the needed funds. If we don’t give them a good education, we lose them to the school-to-prison pipeline. They’ve been boosted up only to be let down again. Please don’t fail them.
Thank you.