The Jersey City Board of Education convened a special meeting last night to discuss the preliminary $713 million 2018-2019 budget that anticipates a $70 million deficit that may require layoffs to fix.
JCPS Business Administrator Regina Robinson explained to the board that one of the main reasons why the district is facing a shortfall for next year is that state aid has been flat for several years, while the district’s expenses keep rising.
She noted that the district has been able up until now to rely upon its fund balances to fund its operations in subsequent school years, but now those funds are being depleted to the point that the district can’t rely upon them to fund operations for next year without making cutbacks.
“We have been depleting our fund balances for the past several years. In the 2014-2015 school year the net of our two percent reserves was $61 million. However, because of stagnant state aid, we’ve had to dig into our fund balances to cover all of our expenditures,” said Robinson.
“In just one year, the 2015-2016 period, we used up about $31 million to cover all of our costs. Thus, for the upcoming 2018-2019 year the net of our two percent reserve has dropped to $12 million.”
As a result, the district is anticipating layoffs.
However, both Robinson and Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles were quick to note that the preliminary budget doesn’t call for laying off in-classroom teachers represented by the Jersey City Education Association.
Instead, 43 “instructional teachers” such as literacy coaches, math coaches and crisis intervention teachers are at risk of layoffs.
This prompted BOE Trustee Marilyn Roman to ask Lyles to explain why the instructional teachers’ jobs are at risk.
“One of the pieces around staffing is having conversations with principals about which positions are most critical for them, giving them choice in terms of identifying who they can eliminate in terms of the support. They have been advised, however, that they will be losing some out-of-the classroom teachers,” said Dr. Lyles.
Additionally, Lyles and Robinson told the board towards the end of the special meeting that they are working very hard to ensure that they can save as many of the anticipated 331 layoffs from happening.
The board took no formal action at the meeting.
The full meeting, which was streamed live on our Facebook page, can be viewed below: