Newark School Budget Not as Explosive, But Fireworks Still Appear Likely

No school closings planned, but hundreds of teacher and administrative layoffs seem likely under $990M spending plan

By John Mooney

One year after a controversial reorganization of Newark’s public schools, Superintendent Cami Anderson’s budget for the next school year calls for no further school closings or consolidations, at least for now.

But don’t expect smooth sailing ahead. As enrollment declines and charter schools grow in the state-run district, the $990 million budget presented last night will surely mean scores – if not hundreds — of staff reductions, both in the classroom and in the central office, officials said.

And reviving a debate from a year ago, Anderson is again going to ask the state for a waiver allowing the district to reduce teaching staff based, in part, on performance — not based on seniority alone, which is required under statute.

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But the next battle will likely be with the unions, as they face the prospect of significant layoffs. The secretary of the Newark Teachers Union, Michael Dixon, sat in the audience and did not speak publicly.

But afterward, he said the union would surely fight Anderson’s plans, both the layoffs and the waiver request, calling the moves “union-busting.”

“It’s crazy that she is putting (the waiver request) up there again,” said Michael Dixon, the NTU’s secretary-treasurer. “It goes to show she doesn’t care about the district. They’re the deciders, and she’ll do what she wants to do.”

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