May 8, 2017
By Jesse Shramenko
BAYONNE – Teachers, parents, and municipal government officials protested against the Board of Education and attended a pivotal Board of Education meeting.
The protest was against the misappropriation of money and massive teacher layoffs from the Bayonne Board of Education. The Board of Education’s accountant had caused a budget deficit of several millions of dollars. A total of 287 teachers had been laid off before the Board of Education’s meeting occurred.
31st District Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight was in attendance and expressed concerns.
“I’m looking for some answers, especially for these students that are uncertain” McKnight said. “These teachers that were here, before they got the slip, were here to provide quality education to the students, and the students know them.”
(Above: 31st District Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight at the Bayonne Teachers’ Protest in Veterans Park)
Mayor Jimmy Davis was also in attendance at the protest and expressed concerns as well.
“These are parents who all have students in the school, some of them are just taxpayers, and this is their district; this is their city” Davis said. “[They came out to] show support for their school district; for their children, and who have questions and want to know what their taxes are going to be like.”
Also in attendance was Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Alicia Losonczy, who had helped to organize the protest.
“We need light brought to this subject; we need answers” Losonczy said. “We need them now before it affects our children further; we don’t want to be in this same position a week from now; we don’t want to be in this same position a year from now; we need a plan, and no one seems to be coming up with it.”
The State of New Jersey is auditing the Bayonne Board of Education and sent someone to monitor the Board’s budget. Protestors marched from Veterans Park to Bayonne High School and attended the Board of Education meeting.
At that meeting, the Board of Education’s majority voted yes on two resolutions that had partially satisfied the protestors’ demands. The Board voted yes on increasing a tax to benefit their budget by 5.60%. That dollar amount equated to of over three million dollars; making the yearly cost for residents slightly over $150. The Board also voted yes to re-hiring 85 teachers who had been laid off; a list of these teachers was put on a bulletin board during the meeting.
Many questions were asked, and points were raised, at the meeting. Some had included why the former accountant who misappropriated funds was not arrested, the quality of education served to students by teachers who were not re-hired, and the effectiveness of selling and renting textbooks.
Residents of Bayonne are hoping to see improvement in the Bayonne Board of Education for the sake of their children’s futures.