Parents, teachers hopeful Jersey City can stop school layoffs

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JERSEY CITY -

Parents, teachers and students in Jersey City say that they are hopeful that city officials will be able to save more than 400 teachers and school staff who may be laid off as part of the district’s budget plan.

The Jersey City School Board passed its budget Monday night with a plan to lay off 410 teachers and staff. Dozens of parents packed a school board meeting Monday night before the vote to express their concern for the plan and to fight to keep the teachers.

And now Jersey City officials say that the jobs may be saved, thanks to revenue coming in from the city’s payroll tax.

"We are hoping that these numbers can translate into our saved jobs of our teachers,” says parent and advocate Natialia Ioffee.

MORE: Parents, students pack public meeting about Jersey City school budget

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has told parents that there seems to be enough money from the tax to cover the board of education’s entire $27.2 million deficit.

“If they don't hear something positive within the next month or so, they are going to go out looking for other jobs. We are going to lose them to the private sector,” Ioffee says.

Parents had been blaming school officials for the layoffs. Some parents were even requesting to pay higher taxes in order to reach a balanced budget.

"When someone pays a property tax, they're actually funding the county and city. Schools are egregiously underfunded,” said parent Brigid D’Souza.

But the school board blames state lawmakers in Trenton for cutting state aid to the district by $33 million. School officials will be in court in June to sue the state for more money. They claim the state has slashed funding by $750 million over 10 years.

But while that happens, parents say that they are now waiting and hoping to hear of new letters going out to teachers reversing the layoffs.

"We want them to hear us that we are not going to end this fight we will get our teachers back,” says parent Tugce Yalt.

Otherwise, 410 teachers and staff will be laid off by June 30.

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