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Paterson faces $38 million school budget shortfall | Paterson Times

Paterson faces $38 million school budget shortfall

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The city’s school district is grappling with a $38 million budget shortfall that could potentially lead to a 14-percent property tax increase, district officials revealed in a special meeting on Monday night.

School officials said the shortfall in the 2019-20 budget is driven by $10.7 million increase in employee salaries and benefits, $9.4 million in charter school expansion, $2.7 million transportation, $6.6 million special education, $381,000 legal, $583,000 security, and $1.7 million substitute teacher expenses.

“This is our true picture right now,” said business administrator Richard Matthews. His presentation showed $558,114,077 in spending and $519,926,367 in revenue for next school year’s budget.

Some school board members were stunned by the prospect of deep cuts in education programs and a massive tax increase on homeowners.

“This is serious and quite shocking,” said longtime school board member Jonathan Hodges. “It’s going to have repercussions in terms of how well our children get educated.”

Matthews outlined a plan to close the gap by eliminating $12 million in vacant jobs, cutting up to $14.4 million in central office spending, and reducing $1.5 million in substitute teacher expenses. His plan also includes saving $500,000 by eliminating the district’s bus ticket program for students living beyond the state mandated mileage requirement for transportation.

“I’m trying very hard not to cut staff and not to cut things for kids. I’m not sure we’re going to be able to do that,” said superintendent Eileen Shafer.

Some school board members asked about the tax increase. Matthews said the district will increase property taxes by 2-percent to collect $829,119 in revenue and use what’s called “cap bank,” which allows the district to go above the two-percent cap, to raise another $5.1 million from homeowners.

Matthews said the district raised taxes only twice in 11 years.

Presently, homeowners contribute $41.5 million to the school budget. The state provides bulk of the funding. In 2019-20, the state is providing the district $439.25 million, up $13.25 million from the previous school year.

Other board members wanted more details about the cuts.

Board member Kenneth Simmons wanted a list of the vacant positions being eliminated from the budget.

“As much as we’d like to, I don’t think we can close the gap without eliminating personnel,” said Simmons.

“I would tend to agree with you on that one,” replied Matthews.

District officials said the board will be provided details of the cuts on Wednesday night. Matthews said board members will be given copies of the budget on Tuesday.

Email: jay@patersontimes.com

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  • Andres Rodriguez

    There are many people who work in the city and on the educational board and earn good salaries and do not live in Paterson or their families. It is a shame that this happens
    Stop this corruption do not realize that there are many properties abandoned by high costs of property taxes.
    You are blind councilors.

    • MarquinhoGaucho

      I used to live in Paterson, but I bought a home outside the city for that very reason. Why pay higher taxes than nicer towns for fewer services and a corrupt BOE that favors cancerous charters over public schools.

    • Dominick Perez

      Can you blame them? Paterson is a shithole.

  • MarquinhoGaucho

    price of corruption…Oshin Castillo sending $$ to PCT, Manny Martinez and the others voting for Charter expansion while the public schools suffer…so the $$42,000 for the trip to Puerto Rico for the Bilingual teachers who wont be hired because most vacant sports are for ESL and bilingual…You want to plug the budget??? Close the charters..start with McNair's and then the Gulen charters..It seems every time there is a financial crunch.,the public schools suffer for the charter's benefit.

    • Dominick Perez

      Don't forget the bloated, corrupt unions. The teachers over way overpaid and their students graduate barely literate.

      • MarquinhoGaucho

        The Charters are a scam, and if teachers are so over paid why do most work 2-3 jobs? If the teachers are so overpaid why are so many positions vacant? Talk about overpaid? Talk about the Charter directors, and the whole BOD reads like a family tree. Our tax $$ goes to pay for the settlements of their sexual abuse victims. The unions defend the teachers from incompetent malicious political hack administrators like Christine Lewis who want to fire teachers with no just cause and replace them with their friends, family or sorority sisters. This job protection is something charters lack. Look at the veteran Social Studies teacher who was fired for his service to our country. As for your kids, you have the economic means and are involved in your child's education like I am, my daughter went to PPS and public school and she is in 5th grade but at an 11th grade ELA level. The problem is lead in the water and paint, uninvolved parents who never read to their child, hood rat parents who became parents when they were children, and parents who work so much to survive they CANT be as involved as we are…you cant blame the teachers because education starts at home. How many Latino, Bengali, Arab kids from immigrant homes who become professionals from PPS , no one ever talks about them …

        • Dominick Perez

          As a great American hero likes to say, that's fake news. I see plenty of luxury cars parked in public school parking lots. Teachers work 6 months per year at the most, get all the holidays off, about a month worth of paid vacation, etc. The bloated, corrupt unions are only good for taking dues, and protecting incompetent teachers' huge salaries and benefits. You sound like a racist.

          • MarquinhoGaucho

            Typical Trumpet, deny facts as fake news, invent lies, and name call rather than provide a valid counter argument.

          • Dominick Perez

            I did. The bloated, corrupt unions and the overpaid and under worked teachers are mainly why a half billion a year isn't enough and the kids are functionally illiterate. And you sound like a racist.

          • MarquinhoGaucho

            The teachers are overworked and underpaid…you deal with these kids see how long you last, especially with no administrative support. FYI Corrupt charters over billing the government making their own salaries hiring perverts , fake vendors, ..attrition scams cost the district way more…look at other towns why are their public schools in to the country and they are Union run.?

          • Dominick Perez

            So it's the kids fault that the teachers are incompetent, lazy and overpaid lol? Teachers work 6 months out of a year boo hoo that sucks. As for perverts, have you seen how many public school teachers are being arrested for banging their students? Get a clue then vote for Trump MAGA.

  • Dominick Perez

    Half a billion a year and the kids can barely read lmfao

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