The city’s governing body passed a symbolic measure urging the state to impose a moratorium on any new charter schools, end attendance based school funding, and increase education aid for the cash-strapped local school district.
Council members approved the resolution during a deliberation session on Tuesday. The resolution stemmed from a joint meeting between the school board and the city council earlier in the year. That meeting, conducted under the threat of property tax increase originating from the schools, ended with both bodies agreeing to send resolutions taking a stand against the state for what they perceived as a chronic underfunding of city schools.
Since then state Democratic legislators have attempted to secure $19.7 in additional funding for the district through a budget amendment, but that was vetoed by governor Chris Christie.
“This is a slap in the face,” said school board president Jonathan Hodges remarking on the governor’s unwillingness to send more aid to the district.
“This is a dramatic statement on the part of the governor,” he told the council prior to the vote. “He doesn’t care about the education of Paterson students.”
Hodges said resolution is “extremely important” to recognize the state is not been adequately funding the city’s schools. City schools have been underfunded by $173.8 million over the past six years, according to the Education Law Center and the Paterson Education Fund.
Advocates say Christie has discarded the School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) which provides for fair funding of poor school districts. The district has cut 363 jobs from its budget earlier in the year resulting in the layoff of large number of teachers that has sparked outrage in the city.
The school board passed an identical resolution in April. Both resolution seek freeze on charter schools, funding based on favorable SFRA formula, and an end to funding based on attendance. The resolution states impoverished urban school districts generally have “considerably lower daily attendance rates than other schools.”
It further states basing school funding “on attendance rather than enrollment negatively affects the most at-risk students.”