Educators in Bayonne are acutely aware of the district’s long-term underfunding, but this year and last there was some relief. Legislators in 2017 allocated six percent, or $3 million, more than what former NJ Gov. Chris Christie proposed. This year, legislators bumped Bayonne another 5.4 percent to $57 million as part of the NJ Legislature’s school funding bill. Districts, including Bayonne, have been underfunded by as much as $1.5 billion a year over the course of the past eight years under former Gov. Christie.
The school funding bill includes $402 million for public schools in New Jersey this year. It includes technical changes to the law that would fully fund the school funding formula within seven years, including previous caps on increases based on enrollment.Bayonne is a growing school district nearing 10,000 enrolled students.
In April, the Bayonne Board of Education (BBOED) passed a $130.7 million budget, and in May settled a three-year contract with the Bayonne Teachers’ Association that collectively nets teachers a 12.7 percent raise. At the time, school administration said that more anticipated state funding would go to the teachers. The text of the district’s budget reads, “The additional State Aid, if received over the next few years, would go to Collective Bargaining Agreements, more educators and personnel, while at the same time keeping the tax increase to a reasonable level.”
The 2018-2019 budget allocates $50.5 million for teacher salaries, which amounts to 38.67 percent of its budget.
“For the first time since the school funding formula was struck, Bayonne has done better in Trenton than it did previously.” –Nicholas Chiaravalloti
“For years we’ve been talking about how Bayonne has been one of the most underfunded school districts, and this sort of compromise goes a long way in correcting that,” said 31st District Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, who represents Bayonne and parts of Jersey City. “We take pride in the fact that for the first time since the school funding formula was struck, Bayonne has done better in Trenton than it did previously.”
Chiaravalloti said that he hopes Bayonne will do even better in future years.
“You’re looking at over a five-year period, it potentially going up over 79 percent,” he said.“Bayonne is receiving 57 million from the state and in 2025, if we’re able to keep this deal in place, Bayonne can get $102 million.”
“I’m excited that the state is putting us in the right direction,” said BBOED President Joseph Broderick. “I think we can use the money wisely. Any money we receive is important and will go a long way. We have a lot of needs in our district.”