The city’s school district is receiving $4.3 million in additional school funding, the New Jersey Department of Education said on Friday afternoon. The extra school aid for the cash-starved Paterson Public Schools will allow the district to hire some of the teachers laid off earlier in the year, said school officials.
School board president Christopher Irving wants the funds to go towards instruction and programs. He said acting superintendent Eileen Shafer will have to come up with a plan and present it to the school board.
Longtime school board member Jonathan Hodges has said he too would like to see the money spent on instruction and programs. The school board has scheduled a retreat for July 29th, 2017. Part of the agenda includes recommendations on where to spend the extra funds.
The additional funds for underfunded school districts was part of the budget deal struck between New Jersey senate president Stephen Sweeney and assembly speaker Vincent Prieto that was later signed by governor Chris Christie.
Though the extra funding will help to re-hire some of the teachers laid off in the spring, it’s still not enough, said school board members. The district earlier in the year closed an almost $42 million budget shortfall by cutting various programs. Part of the cuts included eliminating 208 positions including 96 teachers.
It also included eliminating busing for 690 city students. Among them 491 students attending the Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI). The vocational school has agreed to cover half of the transportation cost for those students.
When asked if some of the new funds will be used to restore courtesy busing for PCTI students, Irving said, “I’m not going to commit to answering that.” The vocational school has sent a letter to the New Jersey Department of Education to force the district to continue providing busing to city students that it has been providing for decades.
Some school board members had suggested the vocational school help with busing costs; however, when the high school offered to cover 50-percent of the expenses district officials back paddled.
The district argued if it provides courtesy busing to PCTI students it will have to do the same for in-district students. The district is saving $930,000 by eliminating its courtesy busing program.
The district expected to receive $401.43 million for 2017-18 school year, but now will receive $405.72 million, according to figures released on Friday afternoon.