Struggling Atlantic City makes half-payment to schools

Atlantic City made a half-payment to its school district while it struggles with finances.

Atlantic City made a half-payment to its school district while it struggles with finances. (4/15/16)

ATLANTIC CITY - Financially struggling Atlantic City has made a partial payment to its schools system as it tries to prevent a judge from freezing the little amount of money it has on hand.

Last week, a judge refused the state's request to prevent Atlantic City from spending any more money until it pays the school system what it owes.

Mayor Don Guardian said the city paid the school system $4.25 million of the $8.4 million it owed the schools.

But the state Education Department says Thursday's payment is only half of what was due in March, and that nothing from an April payment has been paid yet.

School board president John Devlin says the partial payment will keep schools open for now.

A court case on the money is scheduled for Tuesday.

As the city struggles to stay afloat, a fight is ongoing among New Jersey lawmakers who can’t agree on how to best save the city.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto tells News 12 New Jersey that he is pleased to see Senate President Steve Sweeney and fellow legislators are willing to give the city another 130 days to get their finances in order before a complete state takeover.

However, Prieto says that he would like to see his own bill to save Atlantic City, which was amended and passed through an Assembly judiciary committee, approved. He says that his bill is similar to the Senate bill supported by Gov. Chris Christie, but would work gradually and give the state power over the city in increments if necessary.

“After 12 months, if [Atlantic City] meets the benchmarks, they go ‘fine,’” Prieto says. “If they don’t, they’ll get more powers. After two years, then everything’s on the table. But that’s the way it’s got to be. Let [the city] be able to survive and flourish on its own.

Prieto's bill is moving to the full Assembly for consideration.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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