New Jersey State Senator Michael Testa (R-1) expressed shock that Superintendent Eileen Schafer of Paterson Schools appeared before the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee to ask for more money when her district is already expected to receive nearly $200 million in additional State and federal funding. Other districts, meanwhile, are planning for real cuts in aid next year.
“Apparently a $200 million boost in funding isn’t enough for Paterson Schools or Superintendent Shafer,” said Testa, a member of the budget committee. “Our job is to protect school districts from being forced to cut teachers or programs, not to help Paterson build its pile of cash even higher. We have to ask, where is all of this money going? We know it’s not making it into the classrooms. How much is wasted on bloated administrative salaries and raises that they can do without?”
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, while schools were closed, Shafer received a 15% raise that increased her annual salary to $267,900, which will permanently boost her future pension.
Despite the governor’s proposal that would increase funding for Paterson by $29.4 million in the State Budget for FY 2022, Shafer appeared at a public budget hearing today asking for even more money for her district.
Paterson is already set to receive $168.1 million in extra aid under recently enacted federal stimulus legislation. In total, Paterson Schools are expected to receive an additional $197.5 million in state and federal funding.
While Paterson is expecting a major boost in funding, nearly one-third of New Jersey’s school districts will have their State aid slashed under Governor Murphy’s proposed budget.
“Superintendent Shafer must not realize that other New Jersey school districts are still expecting net aid cuts under Governor Murphy’s proposed budget, even with new federal dollars on the way,” added Testa. “Some of those districts operate very frugally and don’t pay their superintendent more than a quarter-million dollars a year. If Paterson really needs more money, I see one place where they can achieve savings.”