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Wimberly Statement on Funding for Paterson Schools

Assemblyman: “There’s no city experiencing what Paterson is experiencing.”

Assembly Deputy Speaker Benjie E. Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic) issued the following statement after education advocates from Paterson testified before the Assembly Budget Committee Wednesday during the panel’s first public hearing on the proposed Fiscal Year 2017 budget at Montclair State University:

“As a Paterson resident and a father of four, the state of education in the city of Paterson goes far beyond politics for me. New Jersey’s budget for the next fiscal year must reflect how dire the situation is in our state’s third largest city. The future of our children – the future of this state – depends on it.

“This is a matter of fairness for children in Paterson. How can we expect young people to learn in dilapidated schools? More importantly, what message does it send to them when these conditions continue to exist for decades?

“There’s no reason for substitute teachers to be permanent fixtures in our classrooms. There’s no reason for consultants to be paid hundreds of dollars a day while our students don’t have adequate textbooks. There’s no reason for teachers to go years without a contract or for hundreds of jobs to be cut from places like school libraries and computer labs.

“Students in Paterson deserve better than an impending budget shortfall for the school district caused by chronic underfunding at the state level, particularly when Paterson’s property taxes have increased 49 percent over the last four years.

“The state has a legal and moral obligation to fully fund schools in Paterson, and the time to honor that obligation is long overdue.”