After county officials rejected a new board of education budget, Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis angrily warned that even more teacher layoffs could be ahead.
The city board of education proposed a budget which planned for a city tax increase as well as laying off teachers, but which would have shifted capital expense funds (for things like schools and maintenance) to pay for retroactive salary increases for teachers (because of the recently negotiated new contract) instead of using general funds. That planned shift is the reason, Davis said, for the county’s rejection of the budget.
Mayor Davis sent the following press release and urges residents to come to tomorrow’s board of education meeting.
The Bayonne Board of Education (“BOE”) announced that the proposed budget with a requested 3.86% tax increase and elimination of approximately 80 full time positions was rejected by the County. The BOE had intended to repurpose 3.7 million dollars of dedicated capital funds to the general account for payment of among other things, promised retro checks as a result of the teachers’ contract settled in November. The budget was rejected based upon the unauthorized use of capital funds.
As a result of the rejected budget the BOE is now facing an insurmountable budget deficit with no solution other than additional tax increases and layoffs. The expected impact on the taxpayers and students is still unknown.
Mayor Davis voiced concern over the situation “it is truly upsetting to learn from sources outside of the BOE that they have been unable to get their financial house in order. Since November of 2016 when this issue first came to light I have stood by offering any assistance available only to be rebuked. ” The BOE is currently undergoing a state audit that will hopefully answer some of the many questions surrounding this fiscal mismanagement.
Mayor Davis further stated that the lack of transparency with his office and the public at large is truly disappointing. As a public servant the superintendent and school administrator are accountable to all of us including the BOE members and should answer the basic questions that have been asked for over six months. How did this happen? Who is responsible? And most importantly. How does this effect our children?” As leader of the District the School Superintendent and School Business Administrator should be held accountable.
As a parent first and foremost; I am concerned with the impact these cuts will have on the classroom. I worry about class sizes, after school programs, sports and the physical condition of many of our schools. I also worry about the promises made to our teachers who settled a contract in good faith on the reliance and representations that the money was available. Teachers who have made plans based upon a contract that now can’t be funded and many of who are facing layoffs.
As Mayor I worry about the impact on an already overtaxed resident. How this issue will effect property values. The budget was based upon facts that never came true, which in the end will leave the taxpayer holding the bag.
Mayor Davis urged all residents to attend the BOE scheduled meeting on Wednesday.
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