Jersey City suing state of New Jersey over cuts in school funding

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- A city in New Jersey is taking the unprecedented step of suing the state over cuts in state aid.

Jersey City schools rely heavily on state funding and say that without it, teachers will be let go and programs eliminated.

Now the city's board of education is suing because they say a cut of $27 million is the last straw.

"The real story of Jersey City lies here on the south side of the city where we have broken families, single moms, single dads, working 2-3 jobs, trying to balance their paychecks," said Jersey City Board of Education President Sudhan Thomas.

One parent, Shanna Givens, is also suing on behalf of her nine-year-old son.

"Personally, it has affected my child which is in the fourth grade who has, he needs occupational therapy," she said.

She alleges he does not get what he needs.

Until last year, Jersey City was for ten years under control of the state of New Jersey, and the superintendent's office explains the shortfall is actually in the hundreds of millions.

Going back ten years there have been $750 million in cuts and projected forward over the next six years they will see $795 million less.

As it is, if the devastating cuts don't stop, the schools could be forced to lay off one in five teachers and staff members

And for kids, the average classroom with one teacher for 19 students would balloon to one for 28.

"At risk? They're students with rights," said Acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. Franklin Walker. "Our bilingual population, at risk they're students with rights."

In Jersey City two thirds of all students are on free or reduced lunch and the argument is that they need and deserve better.

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