An outrage erupted at last night’s Bayonne Board of Education (BBOE) meeting after a 5-3-1 vote passed, causing a massive 261-person layoff consisting of teachers and other staff to compensate for a budget deficit of at least $6 million.
As a result in reduction of force (RIF), a separation of employment due to lack of funding, the BOE voted on a resolution that reduced the number of non-certificated teaching positions with a two-thirds probability of recall.
Some board members disagreed with the terminations, including Trustees Theodore Garelick, Mikel Lawandy, and Christopher Munoz, as well an abstention from Mary Jane Desmond, but the other five board members voted yes on the measure.
President Joseph Broderick called this meeting “by far the worst,” noting the lives the decision will be effected on June 30th, when the fiscal year ends, largely due to an unapproved budget of $133.1 million – that comes with a 3.9 percent tax increase.
The BBOE has reached a $5.62 million bank cap, according to Broderick, which only riled up hundreds of frustrated residents who crowded the Bayonne High School Alexander O’Connor Auditorium, some being teachers who will receive the infamous reduction enforce letter.
Dr. Andrea Ressetar, among many speakers of the night, spoke intently about the previous central administration’s overspending, and the boards lack of action to resolve the budget deficit.
“I think it’s a travesty to see what I believe is every non-tenure teacher in the district will be scheduled to receive a reduction enforce letter,” she began.
“I would have hoped that since the budget deficit was identified back in November 2016 and possibly earlier, that the board would have had adequate time to discern exactly how many staff members would actually need to be dismissed to make ends meet,” said Ressetar, pressing on the growing anxiety among most members of the audience.
She added how energy spent teaching students will now be directed to finding more stable employment on account of 10 years of central administration addressing proposals to trustees that were suggested to cost little funds.
“Now, it’s very clear that they had champagne taste on a beer budget and now many innocent people are suffering. I sincerely doubt you can run this district and provide a thorough and efficient education with this number of cuts to the teaching staff,” said Ressetar.
Christopher Munoz, who voted no, suggested that instead of teaching and non-teaching staff cuts, the board should fight towards more state funding during a Trenton meeting next Thursday.
In a similar affect, Broderick had hoped the state audit would produce answers to correct the financial deficit.
The BBOE ensured that all teachers would receive retro checks from previous years, according to the most recently settled teacher’s contract.
Members of the public’s main concern were the student: at Lincoln Community School along, there are 18 proposed layoffs.
Cheryl Jablonsky, a physical science teacher in the district, commented on how “We have all been lied to. Tonight we’re going to put the lives of potentially hundreds of people in [jeopardy].”