The city’s school district may lose $16.4 million in state education funding because of the fiscal crisis produced by the coronavirus pandemic.
Under revised state education funding figures released on Thursday, Paterson’s school aid amount is reduced from $463.28 million to $446.88 for the 2020-21 academic year.
“This is going to be devastating,” said school board president Kenneth Simmons. “We have to go back and try to figure out where to cut. That’s going to be difficult.”
School officials grappled with a $63.7 million budget shortfall that was reduced to $14.6 million just before budget adoption two weeks ago. The $14.6 million shortfall would have led to the elimination of 243 teachers, district officials said at the time. But the layoffs were reduced to 47 thanks to $11.6 million in federal Covid-19 funds.
Superintendent Eileen Shafer had planned to re-hire the 47 teachers. With proposed reduction in state aid that may not be possible.
“It’s important to keep in mind that the cuts that were issued by the state late yesterday are only proposed cuts. We are still awaiting guidance from the state as to how these cuts would be administered,” said Paul Brubaker, spokesman for the Paterson Public Schools. “In the meantime, we do have a board-approved budget for the next school year, and we intend to continue working with state and federal officials in acquiring the resources necessary to provide the children in our district a thorough and efficient education.”
The school board adopted its $618.55 million budget on May 15. The budget included a 15 percent local property tax increase and closure of two schools.
Governor Phil Murphy reduced state education funding by $335 million because of the fiscal havoc caused by the virus.
Other large school districts are also losing millions in the revised figures.
Newark is losing $36.36 million. Jersey City, which lost $55.31 million earlier in the year, is not seeing virus-related reductions. And Elizabeth is losing $17.22 million.
The revised funding figures have to be approved by the state legislature.
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Updated 10:15 a.m.