Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis called for the reorganization of the local public schools, as well as a new capital plan that aims to build new facilities to replace the current structures that are more than 100 years old, during his State of the City Address.
“I am working with the Board of Education and closely with our freeholder and Assistant Superintendent Kenneth Kopacz to develop a plan to reorganize our current school districts, explore establishing middle schools and implement a capital plan for the construction of new schools,” Davis said during his 30-minute speech at the Villa Maria restaurant.
We followed up with him in an interview to learn more about the proposal to reorganize the city’s schools.
“The one option that is constant is that some of these schools need to be replaced, that are well over 100 years old and in order for the city to move forward we need to give our children the best. Instead of just throwing money at old buildings, we need to start rethinking and start coming up with a long-term comprehensive plan that works for the city and works for the taxpayer,” Davis explained.
Davis also detailed some of the thinking behind the proposal to reorganize schools within the district.
“One of the subjects that we’ve been broaching is maybe coming up with [up to] three middle schools, so that would open up, because right now, especially with Pre-K being full-day, at some point we may need to have classroom space. So if we can build a middle school, you move 6th, 7th and 8th graders into a middle school, that opens up classroom space in all the other schools throughout the city,” he said.
The mayor highlighted some of the initiatives and accomplishments he and his administration have achieved in policy and programs.
This included the recent opening of the new Cotsco, the demolishing of old U.S. Army buildings on the Military Ocean Terminal site to pave the way for the establishment of new logistics warehouses that will employ nearly 2,700 workers and the ongoing development of new residential units throughout the city.
For the latter, his administration has endured some criticism for offering developers long-term tax abatements.
But Davis had a response to that after asking the city council members in attendance to stand up for an ovation in response to their work in approving new commercial and residential developments.
“I know that each and every one of you have taken a lot of heat in helping me to implement our development plans. In particular, we have aggressively used payment in lieu of tax agreements to spur development by providing an incentive to developers to build, while simultaneously creating a long-term revenue stream to resolve our fiscal challenges,” Davis said.
“I salute and applaud your political courage in doing not the popular thing, but doing the right thing for Bayonne by making the difficult votes that are ensuring our new present and our ever brightening future.”
He then returned to highlight additional educational initiatives realized under his leadership, such as securing millions of dollars in funding for the Board of Education and the establishment of the city’s first-ever full day Pre-K school system for four year-olds and under children starting in September.
“There is nothing more important to our city than the education of our children. Bayonne was one of, if not the most underfunded school system in New Jersey. As mayor, I found that intolerable. Working with the Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti and the rest of our New Jersey legislation delegation, we were able to receive additional millions of dollars for our schools. This additional funding allows for the continuation of quality education for our children without unduly burdening our already over-burdened taxpayers,” Davis stated.
By working with Governor Phil Murphy (D), Davis said the city was able to secure the necessary funding for Pre-K.
“No more lottery, no more half-day. Now it’s full-time Pre-K for all of our children this September. Studies have repeatedly shown that a child who has full-day Pre-K will perform better through the years as they continue their education. I thank the governor and our legislative team for making Bayonne one of the first cities in New Jersey to provide full-day Pre-K.”
He rounded his State of the City address by affirming Bayonne’s continued progress over the last 150 years, which just celebrated its sesquicentennial.
“This is my favorite part. Bayonne is strong, Bayonne is alive, Bayonne is Bayonne again. Our city has gone through numerous changes over the past 150 years. It is my belief, however, that this current change is the most important and profound one yet. The dire financial and social circumstances Bayonne faced just a few years ago that caused Bayonne to stumble and fall. But this is Bayonne, we are Bayonne – home of the Game of Thrones and the real Rocky Balboa.”
We live streamed the entire State of the City address to our Facebook Page, which can be viewed below:
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis delivering his State of the City address.
Posted by Hudson County View on Tuesday, April 16, 2019