First digital ad from Fairer NJ super PAC targets Jersey City BOE over financial shortcomings

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The first digital ad from the Fairer NJ super PAC is targeting the Jersey City Board of Education over their recent financial shortcomings, claiming that their recent struggles indicate it’s clearly time for a change.

“A storm on the horizon, a school budget crisis from gross mismanagement and political shenanigans on the Jersey City Board of Education,” a voiceover begins during the 30-second digital ad.

“$208 million in funding could be lost. Jersey City, already the poster child the what’s wrong with school funding: overcrowding, teacher layoffs, after school program cuts, and higher taxes for all of us – it’s time for change on the Jersey City Board of Education.”

As previously reported, the super PAC is backing the five-person Change for Children slate in what looks to be one of the most contentious – and expensive – BOE races in recent memory.

They are challenging the “Education Matters” team backed by the Jersey City Education Association, which features four incumbents.

“As voters go to the polls this November, we believe that it is important for the public to
know that the Jersey City Board of Education is engaged fiscal gimmicks and political
shenanigans instead of doing what is right for our children and taxpayers,” Fairer NJ Campaign Chair Mark Matzen said in a statement.

“Not only are the board’s actions irresponsible, but the cost our children and taxpayers will pay because of the failures of this board is tragic. It’s time for big changes on the Jersey
City Board of Education.”

Board President Sudhan Thomas, part of the Education Matters slate, said the ad was full of inaccuracies and tries to create a “Trump-ian kind of fear psychosis.”

“The ad is full of contradictions and zero on facts / substance and aims to instill a Trump-ian kind of fear psychosis. The Board has pursued an all-encompassing approach to courageously take on the financial challenges faced by the district … ,” he said.

” … After school programs are run and funded by external agencies and programs and do not come out of the Jersey City school budget, like St. Peter’s operating Century 21 for M.S. 40,s these folks will know if they actually show up at our meetings. It is important to point out that the developers funding this ad if – you call it an ad – are the beneficiaries of several hundreds of millions of dollars in tax break through abatements which strikes at the core of the funding problems faced by Jersey City schools as PILOT revenues do not fund schools.”

Jeremy Farrell, the senior director of the LeFrak Organization, is officially the chair of the organization, while Matzen is listed as a political consultant, according to paperwork filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission on August 20th.

The Jersey City BOE faced a $120 million budget shortfall for the 2018-2019 fiscal year and has filed a lawsuit against the state alleging they will lose $795 million in aid by 2024.

Thomas said in June that the budget woes would not ultimately lead to any layoffs, though an internal audit would lead to approximately 150 to 200 jobs being cut.