NJ students protest school budget funding

April 21, 2010 2:45:27 PM PDT
The fight over funding for New Jersey schools is far from over. Voters in the Garden State rejected more than half of the school budgets Tuesday, and hundreds of students protested the results in Teaneck Wednesday.

The vote was particularly contentious, with Governor Chris Christie and the state's largest teachers union accusing each other of bullying.

School budgets are is tied directly to property taxes in the state. Only 41.3 percent of the school budgets across New Jersey were approved by voters. Now, those who stand to lose the most are standing up for their schools.

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Students in Teaneck staged a protest, carrying signs supporting their school after the defeat of their budget. They are now concerned that cherished teachers and programs are going to be slashed.

"We could have educated talented teachers cut," student Brian Thorne said. "And we could have all the extracurricular activities in elementary schools cut. That would mean no clubs or no sports."

The students feel Teaneck's future is in jeopardy and believe younger students are going to be the big losers.

"Colleges look for well-rounded students, and we're not going to have anything, no sports or anything," student Gerard Rice said. "When I graduate, I want to be the pride of my high school. I want to say I went to Teaneck High School and be proud of it."

In local elections across the state Tuesday, voters rejected 59 percent of school budget proposals. It's the first time the majority of budgets were defeated since 1976, and it comes on the heels of Christie's plan to cut $820 million in state aid to school districts, which he claims, is necessary to close New Jersey's $11 billion budget deficit.

Parents wonder what's going to happen to school in districts were voters gave a thumbs down to the budget.

"The governor promised too many good things for our kids," one parent said. "Can you imagine if they cut teachers and programs?"

Christie called on voters to vote down budgets in districts where teachers did not accept a one-year wage freeze and agree to pay into a medical plan.

Now, it will be left up to city and town councils throughout the state to come up with new proposals. They will ultimately make the decision on what programs will be cut and who will lose their jobs.


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