We would like to share with you Senator Sweeney’s response to the email we sent on April 21 and subsequent petition signed by our PS16 parents.
Thanks to you all lending your voices to the issue of public school funding in our city, it looks like the Board of Education, Jersey City’s leadership and the State Legislature are all working to ensure that there will likely be NO LAYOFFS of any of our beloved teachers at this time. Your support has been tremendous and it made a difference. We will continue to advocate for our school on city and state level and we will keep you posted on any developments.
Thank you from the CPA Team!
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Sweeney, Sen. D.O. <SenSweeney@njleg.org>
Date: Wed, May 2, 2018 at 10:58 AM
Subject: RE: Jersey City School Funding
Dear Ms. Ioffe:
Thank you for your email sharing your concerns regarding funding for schools in Jersey City and across our state.
I appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me on this important matter. School funding is a top priority for the ongoing budget discussions, and my colleagues and I in the Legislature are working to secure fair funding for all New Jersey students. PILOT program reform is an element of these discussions and we are looking into this.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2018 10:35 PM
To: Sweeney, Sen. D.O.
Subject: Jersey City School Funding
Dear Senate President Sweeney,
My name is Natalia Ioffe and I am a Jersey City parent volunteer. I am also a Director at a non-profit corporation that supports Jersey City Public School #16 and has invested over $350,000 into the education of children of this school over the past few years.
Our school is one of the highest ranking in the district, with excelling test scores and over 70 nationalities represented among its students and staff. It is also the school that was the first one to lose Title 1 aid and the extended year summer school, despite still having low income students. With a women’s shelter and affordable housing located nearby, our non-profit parent organization provides services to many P.S.#16 students from struggling households. Through vigorous fundraising we are able provide privately funded after-school programs, summer camp, enrichment workshops, free books and scholarships, equipment and facility improvements to our public school. As parents we spare no effort in ensuring that students receive a thorough and efficient education in a comfortable learning environment. However, we are just 1 school out of 42, and although parent groups throughout the city are working hard to support their schools they face much greater challenges due to vario
us socioeconomic factors, not the least of which are neglect, poverty and crime.
When the ratio of low-income students at our school went down to 30% of total enrollment, we lost our Title 1 state aid and our parents began subsidizing the school’s needs on a much greater scale. However, we are the ONLY school in the district with this student income ratio. Despite Jersey City’s recent building boom and economic growth, students from low-income families make up more than 72% of the district’s total enrollment. That includes thousands of children with special needs, language barriers and other circumstances that require ongoing additional support.
Due to our district’s current budget shortfall, all these children are about to lose vital services and devoted teachers who spent years building relationships with their students, receiving need-specific training and investing themselves in the plight of their students, especially those in dire circumstances. Just when we started making progress – improving test scores, increasing graduation rates and coming up with innovative strategies for community/district partnerships to cut costs and improve efficiency – the rug is being pulled from under our feet. Our school district is facing more than just a financial crisis, we are looking at a full-blown educational catastrophe that will effectively wipe out our collective efforts of the past years.
As parents and tax payers, as residents of New Jersey, we cannot allow our children to become casualties in political stand-offs. We have thus far adapted to every circumstance thrown at us, including the tax revaluation that for many of us will result in triple tax payments before the end of this year. We have complied and contributed. We volunteer and we invest our time and money helping children that need help, not just our own. We have never shied away from our civic duty as citizens and humans. We pay our fair share and more, because we believe that children are worth it. We expect nothing less from our government leaders.
At this time we ask for a productive consensus to be reached between state legislators and Jersey City’s leadership in order to provide adequate funding to our students. Whether it is in the form of abatement law changes that will allow PILOT revenues to be shared with schools, increased state funding, educational grants, or all of the above – our schools need your help and they need it now.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Subject: EDUCATION – FINANCE