The city’s school district has eliminated 287 jobs, majority of them teaching positions, as a result of budget cuts.
School officials had talked about eliminating 234 jobs during the 2019-2020 budget discussions. At the time, superintendent Eileen Shafer had said the number could be much higher as employees exercise their contractual bumping rights to occupy lower positions.
“It’s horrible,” said school board president Oshin Castillo. She said every school building is losing two teachers and one supervisor, vice principal, or director.
School officials had to close a more than $40 million budget gap. It included raising property taxes by 14-percent, eliminating music and art, SAT prep, and other programs put in place in the current school year, and the layoffs.
The district eliminated 43 vacant positions and issued layoff notices to 244 employees. 116 employees exercised their bumping rights to take lower-level positions, said Castillo.
128 people will be out of a job on Jul. 1, said the president.
“It means increased class sizes. Class sizes are already too big. Kids are already behind. Too many of our kids aren’t meeting academic benchmarks. Discipline will be an issue when they get up to 40 kids per classroom,” said Rosie Grant, executive director for the Paterson Education Fund. “I can’t see any good coming out of this.”
Shafer had said class sizes could climb to 40 students per teacher in September.
Parents, teachers, and community leaders protested the cuts and state underfunding of district schools in Trenton late last month. Grant said she yet to see any indications the state will provide extra education aid to the school district.
One year, the state provided supplemental state aid to the district following similar protests.
“That’s what we’ve been advocating for,” said Castillo. “I don’t know what the possibility of that is. I know many of them [lawmakers] were shocked when we went down there and talked about the issues in Paterson.”