Paterson students get ‘Red Carpet’ treatment on first day of school

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Paterson students were given “Red Carpet” treatment Thursday for the first day of school, as the district deals with some challenges after a round of layoffs.

School administrators say that the reason for the special treatment was to make the students feel like stars. It is also related to several nearby movie shoots Paterson has seen over the past few months, including for the movie “West Side Story,” which is being filmed near Norman S Weir Elementary School.

School Superintendent Eileen Shafer says that she visited about seven schools Thursday morning for the first day.

“It was just a great experience,” she says.

RELATED: Paterson School District braces for layoffs as district adopts new budget 

Shafer says that there is a lot of optimism in the district this year. She points to a reading program that improved students’ skills in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also says that more high school students in Paterson are taking college-level courses. All this comes as the district tries to regain local control.

“For the Paterson School District, this is the second year of our transition plan to local control. The district has been under state control since 1991,” Shafer says.

But the new school year begins with 130 fewer teachers, who were laid off, along with 100 more administrators and other staff due to budgetary issues. Schafer says some class sizes are larger and some art and music programs were cut.

But the principal of Norman S Weir Elementary School says that she is pleased that technology is improving in the classroom.

“For the first time, every child in our school received a computer,” says Principal Grace Giglio.

There are approximately 25,000 students in the Paterson school district.

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