Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Board Vote Backs Plan to Cut 363 School Jobs

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Board Vote Backs Plan to Cut 363 School Jobs

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- By a 5-4 vote, the Board of Education on Monday night approved a $565 million district budget for 2015-16 that district officials say will result in the elimination of 363 jobs.

Among the jobs being cut are 197 instructional positions, which include teachers, officials said. The job reductions will save about $21 million, according to state-appointed schools Superintendent Donnie Evans.

Despite the large number of jobs at stake, fewer than 30 people attended the budget meeting and only five of them spoke. Several predicted that the cuts would increase class sizes in a district where student test scores are among the lowest in the state.

"I'm struggling to understand how this reduction is going to have minimal effect on the children," said Rosie Grant, head of the Paterson Education Fund, an advocacy group. "It has to be that class sizes are going to go up and supplies are less."

"This is going to lead to frustrated kids, it will lead to discipline problems and it's going to lead to increased dropouts," Grant added. "We're going to feed the school-to-prison pipeline unless we find the resources they need."

The district had 5,369 staff members last year, according to its annual report.

School board President Jonathan Hodges cast the deciding vote in favor of the budget. Since the district is under state control, Evans could have implemented the budget even if the board had voted it down.

Joining Hodges in voting for the budget were Christopher Irving, Manny Martinez, Flavio Rivera and Kenneth Simmons. Voting against it were Chrystal Cleaves, Errol Kerr, Lilisa Mimms and Corey Teague.

Kerr called the district's spending plan "the 'dumb the children down budget.' '' He said the reductions would undermine the academic progress the district has made. "We are trying to destroy the entire thing," Kerr said.

Some board members warned that the district's financial problems would only get worse. …

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