Parents fight to save teachers’ jobs as layoffs loom in Jersey City

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Parents showed up at Jersey City City Hall Wednesday asking for help from City Council to preserve the jobs of over 400 school employees who are facing layoffs.

About 410 Jersey City School District employees have received layoff notices due to budget cuts.

Parents and teachers showed up at a scheduled City Council meeting with signs. They say they understand there is a lack of funding from the state, but the Jersey City Board of Education should not be balancing their budget by laying off teachers.

"What we were told as a parent body is that the classrooms would be the last place to be affected," says Natalia Ioffe of the Public School 16 Parent Council.

Ioffe says that she saw the letter that went out to a total of 210 teachers. She says that the rest of the layoffs notices went to school administrators and clerical staff. The letters from the school superintendent say, "I am not recommending renewal of your employment contract for the 2019-2020 school year."

The Board of Education blames the state Legislature and the $33 million in state aid that was cut from the Jersey City budget.

"The only way to really close the gap is in staff,” says Jersey City School District Chief of Staff Dr. Norma Fernandez. "I've had sleepless nights knowing these notices were going out. It impacts people's lives and their livelihood."

The Jersey City Council has no power over the board of education’s budget. However, last year many teachers received the same notices and parents again complained. In response, the city enacted a payroll tax in November to offset costs.

Parents are now asking if any of that money can be used to keep jobs from being lost. They say the layoffs would have a negative impact on students.

"That should be the last thing they do because that will immediately affect the entire academic future of the children in this city,” Ioffe says.

Those who received letters would get their last paycheck on June 30 if the layoffs go ahead as planned.

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