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PATERSON SCHOOLS FALLING OFF THE FISCAL CLIFF: IS THERE A WAY BACK?

Guest Post by Rosie Grant, Executive Director, Paterson Education Fund

December 16, 2015

It is inevitable. If your income stays the same and expenses rise, you have to eliminate something. That is what we call the “fiscal cliff.”

For our Paterson schools, that has meant fewer classroom teachers, fewer librarians and library books, fewer art and music teachers, less support for sports teams…the list goes on.

That is the very unfortunate situation for the children of Paterson and the Paterson Public Schools. The State of New Jersey, responsible for supporting our schools, has failed to follow the law, the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 [SFRA], for six years in a row. By not fully funding the SFRA, we find ourselves on the fiscal cliff with more expenses than we have income.  

It didn’t have to happen. It should not have happened. But here we are.

Why is the SFRA important?

The SFRA is a “weighted” formula. It provides a base amount of money for each and every student so that they can reach the core curriculum standards. Importantly, it also recognizes that some students need extra support: poor students, English language learners, special education students. Those students should receive additional support based on the extra help they will need to reach the core curriculum standards. But for six years, the State of New Jersey has withheld the appropriate financial support leaving our schools with flat funding, rising costs and program cuts.

How do we get off the fiscal cliff?

We follow the law and fully fund the SFRA. Or at least start to move towards full funding.

What resources would we have if the SFRA law was followed?

If the SFRA was fully funded, we could hire back every teacher, librarian, art teacher and music teacher as well as add more Special Services. We would have our sports teams back. We could expand our community schools.

We would be talking about what we want to make our schools better. Think about what we could be doing with an additional $71 million this year.

Instead, we are agonizing over what we must give up as we continue to fall off the fiscal cliff.

What can you do?

Take Action: Like the Paterson Education Fund on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PatersonEducation/ and contact your legislators when we send out alerts. Not on Facebook? Visit our website regularly: www.paterson-education.org.