More than a thousand classes in Paterson have 30 or more students this school year, said superintendent Eileen Shafer at a public meeting on Wednesday night.
Shafer had warned last spring that layoff of 128 employees, including 88 teachers, due to a budget crunch, would lead to bigger class sizes.
At the time she predicted class sizes could climb to 40 students.
“That’s the reality,” said school board vice president Nakima Redmon on Thursday afternoon. She said class sizes swelled due to budget constraints. The school board sought almost $25 million in emergency aid from the state in June. “We’re still waiting; we haven’t gotten an answer yet.”
Some classes have far more than 40 students.
“Class sizes are a major problem. At Eastside, we are told that several classes have 47 students,” said John McEntee, Jr., president of the Paterson Education Association, the teachers’ union. “Our action team is preparing to investigate this further and engage the parents, and community to demand that Trenton fund our schools in a manner which lessens the burden on our staff members. Our students deserve better.”
Shafer said 1,005 classes have 30 or more pupils. Her remark suggests the overcrowding affects nearly all of the district’s students.
“It’s crazy. How is a teacher supposed to handle a class with 30-plus students?” said Rosie Grant, executive director for the Paterson Education Fund, an advocacy group. “It’s a gross injustice.”
School board members have long complained the state is underfunding the district by millions of dollars every year.