Paterson teacher layoffs imminent

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With the New Jersey state budget not yet finalized, teachers in Paterson are holding out hope that more state money will be coming their way. If not, there are plans to lay off teachers in the district in order to save money.

The Paterson School District needs to free up $20 million from its budget, and officials say layoffs are the way to do this. If the layoffs happen, approximately 300 teachers will be let go.

One of the schools that will see the most change is P.S. 7. The school could lose nine teachers and four classroom aides for the 2015-2016 school year. The music program would be cut and the school will also lose its librarian.

"A lot of our kids who need one-on-one attention will no longer have that," says teacher Ryan Maddock. Maddock went on to say teachers will have to spend time in more classrooms instead of paying greater attention to individual students.

The school will also only have one science teacher, one gym teacher, and one social studies teacher. Students will only have those classes for two marking periods instead of four.

In order to avoid the layoffs completely, Gov. Chris Christie would have to authorize more money to be sent to a state-funded school district, like Paterson. So far, the governor has made no mention of this. The state budget is due in July.

Paterson Teacher's Union President Peter Tirri says they are pushing legislators to intervene, but he's not optimistic.

"I don't see anybody overwhelming the governor's veto," Tirri says. "I don't know why they're afraid of him."

In lieu of state money, Tirri says it may be time to raise taxes on the Paterson homeowners to help fund the schools.

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