Paterson School District braces for layoffs as district adopts new budget

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PATERSON -

Paterson school employees are bracing for major layoffs as the district adopts a new budget.

More than 200 teachers and administrators will be laid off under the new budget. There will also be cuts to some school programs.

The announcement has some parents concerned that the layoffs will hurt the education of the 29,000 students who attend Paterson Public Schools.

“I think it’s wrong,” says parent Knieka Hoskins.

Paterson School Superintendent Eileen Shafer says that she does not like the budget approved by the school board Tuesday.

RELATED: Paterson community goes to Trenton to speak out against layoffs 

“It’s not a good budget,” she says. “Our class sizes are going up. Programs being eliminated. Children don’t have interventions, they don’t have what they need in order for them to be successful.”

But Shafer says that the school district had no choice but to pass a balanced budget to allow the district to regain local control. The district is currently in the process of transitioning out of being under state control. Under the plan, 250 teachers, administrators and supervisors will be let go.

Paterson Mayor Andrew Sayegh says that he lobbied Gov. Phil Murphy for more school funding.

“For nearly a decade our school system was chronically underfunded and I know the governor is doing his best, but obviously we’re pushing for more,” the mayor said.

Murphy urged patience Wednesday.

“I would say to Paterson and other communities that are crying out – we’re working with them,” he says.

Paterson gets more than 80% of its funding from the state. But local property owners will also bear the brunt of the school budget. It includes a 14% tax increase.

A list of specific positions to be eliminated under the layoffs will be voted on Monday by the board of education.

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