The Jersey City Board of Education passed an $8.4 million budget amendment with a 7-1 vote during an emergency meeting last night.
The plan no longer included reducing the athletics intramural budget which caused a four-hour meeting on Tuesday that ended in a stalemate.
Instead, it includes a reduction of lunch duty budget ratio of 1 teacher for every 50 students, with the promise that the safety of students will not be compromised.
Jersey City Education Association President Ron Greco shared that “the ratio is not always 1 to 50, but in most cases it is the administrators in the building that use their judgment.”
“Something that we both agreed that we have to monitor, of course what is paramount is the student safety, but what we have to monitor is that people that are being paid for lunch duty are performing lunch duty,” stated Greco.
Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles further explained “if we went to a straight 50 – 1 ratio, just across the district, just straight, we can save over $1 million, but we have only put forward to save, to project $358,00,0 and part because we are going to monitor more closely.”
Lyles also pointed out that this was just for the teachers and they do have set aside lunch personnel and security placed in the cafeteria.
The plan included repurposing $400,000 of the IDEA Grant to support the teachers who specialize in special education.
Lyles further explained that the recreation plan “reflects the agreement with the mayor, who recognizes the need for recreation to also pay our fees on behalf of opening our buildings and so that is where we look to get $117,000.”
Upon deliberation, most trustees pushed for a thorough audit for the district.
Trustee Marilyn Roman questioned the unused money that was found as a result of the clerical positions not being filled during a school year.
“If you are not filling those positions why do we need to fund it? We need to take a very, very strong and deep look at our finances,” suggested Roman.
Trustee Lorenzo Richardson was very hesitant to vote, also urging the need for the audit.
BOE Vice President Sudhan Thomas voted against the measure, listing numerous reasons why it would not be beneficial to the district right now, and Trustee Vidya Gangadin was absent.