It is no secret Jersey City Public Schools have been underfunded for more than a decade. Rather than supporting our efforts to fulfill our mandate — providing thorough and efficient education for Jersey City students — City Hall has asked us to do more with less.
The City recently introduced a resolution to provide $2 million per year, compounding at 2% annually, for the next 30 years, to SciCity High School. In total, Jersey City taxpayers will owe about $81 million. The residents of Jersey City have already donated 16 acres of land to the SciTech Scity Project. At that time we were told that this project would include a K-12 public school for Jersey City residents. Now, we are being told it will be a school run by the Hudson County School of Technology where Jersey City students will only make up a portion of the enrollment. In addition, Jersey City residents are the only ones who are being asked to pay for this school twice, once via our county taxes, then again via the city contribution.
At the same time, the State of New Jersey cut our budget by $71 million this year and is expected to cut another $100 million next year. These are the largest cuts the Jersey City School System has ever experienced.
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Any effort trying to bring STEM into classrooms is admirable but starting an expensive new project before we solve a historic funding crisis for our students is irresponsible. It appears as though the City is ignoring the funding crisis happening in their own backyard for a shiny, cost-prohibitive project where we are subsidizing the rest of the county.
If City Hall provided the same level of commitment to Jersey City Public Schools – $2 million per school – there would be no need to increase taxes for the Board of Education’s budget this year.
Rather than investing in our future, the City has decided to invest in a luxury we cannot afford. As a result, the children of the working families who live here will be left behind.
Rather than scapegoating the Board of Education for the tax increases we are forced to consider, the City can partner with us to solve this challenge. If the city wants to reduce the impact of the state’s cuts on taxpayers, the City can provide us a portion of tax abatement revenue, from properties worth $13 billion, that currently contribute 100% to the city and 0% to our schools. If the City wants to reduce the impact of the state’s cuts on taxpayers, they can make up for dollars missing from the payroll tax from their budget. If the city wants to reduce the impact of the state’s cuts on taxpayers, they can contribute dollars towards our schools and show their commitment to Jersey City children.
We ask the mayor and the members of the city council to work with us to solve the Jersey City funding crisis and invest in our children. Rather than spending millions of dollars on a project, we cannot afford to, show us that our children matter.
Mussab Ali, Jersey City Board of Education President
Lorenzo Richardson, Jersey City Board of Education Member
Marilyn Roman, Jersey City Board of Education Member
Joan Terrell-Paige, Jersey City Board of Education Member
Noemi Velazquez, Jersey City Board of Education Member
Gina Verdibello, Jersey City Board of Education Member