(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) issued the following statement on Monday:

“There’s nothing in place right now to address the needs of underfunded school districts.  We must do better by the students of New Jersey to stem the layoffs, teacher shortages, and cuts in school programming we’ve seen in recent years.

 “Paterson public schools have been underfunded by $252 million over the last eight years. We have had to lay off 526 staff members during this time.  Even with the Governor’s allotment this year, Paterson school districts are still short 32 million dollars in school funding.

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“Without that $32 million, we have to cut 10 security guards. We cannot repair degraded science labs. We cannot hire the 3 more nurses needed to adequately serve our students. We are down 18 media specialists in our districts.  In Paterson, where there are 77 dialects, we will be short 43 bilingual teachers without the additional funding.  And the list goes on and on.

“School safety concerns are urgent in these times.  In districts like Paterson, which has 19 schools over 100 years old, the sense of urgency to assess, build and repair these buildings is much greater than other school districts. ”

“We talk of modernization of the school funding formula but are not yet clear as to what this will truly mean to students and schools. Whatever we need to do to make sure the right funding formula is in place to provide for our school districts, we have to do it now.”