(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) decries Education Commissioner’s testimony on the Fairness Funding Formula and state takeovers at Assembly Budget hearing:
“Even if we (Paterson) are on a path to local control, we are on a path to failure. State takeovers are a failed operation and returning control to districts chronically underfunded and understaffed is setting New Jersey students up for failure. You’re giving back a broken system.
“Paterson is the third largest district and the second most populated school district in the state. We have operated 26 years under state takeover and we are no better off now than we were then.
“Paterson school district has seen 500 staff member layoffs over the last three years. How can we properly educate students without the teachers and support staff necessary to do it?
“How can we say we are increasing funds for education and are funding districts in a fair way, when the Paterson district alone has been underfunded 280 million over the last 6 years yet the city has seen an increase of 59 percent in property taxes? We have paid our fair share and have suffered greatly in the loss of funding for education.
“Flat funding is a formula for disaster. The thought of giving $6600 per student across the board would send many districts belly up. Invaluable programs would continue to be cut as they are being cut right now. Recreation programs, special education programs, summer programs, cut. The Governor’s fairness formula is not fair. It is not right and it is not the right thing to do.
“Why would any teacher want to come to a district such as Paterson or Newark if they are eventually going to be laid off, if they are not given money for essential supplies such as paper, if they have to work in an 100 year old school building with broken HVAC systems and with school security issues? We sound like a broken record but New Jersey residents need answers.
“To quote Frederick Douglass, ‘It is easier to build strong children than fix broken men.’ There are so many areas of concern in all schools across New Jersey, not only Paterson, that you cannot possibly say we are setting any student up for success in the State of New Jersey.”