Paterson Press letter: Assembywoman condems school budget cuts

As seen on NorthJersey.com – (http://www.northjersey.com/news/paterson-press-letter-assembywoman-condems-school-budget-cuts-1.1652675)

Dear Editor,

At the beginning of a new school year, excitement should fill the atmosphere.  Over the past several years, Paterson Public School students, parents and teachers have mostly felt anxiety as a result of substantial administrative changes. This time these changes impact the safety of staff and students.

These latest rounds of cuts to security, transportation and custodial services announced in August are, truthfully, obscene.

There are many Paterson school buildings that have a demonstrated need for security.  The need was amplified last term when a person took refuge in a school building to avoid an attack.  Security locked down the school to protect teachers and students.  Yet, it’s security that made it on the budget chopping block.

Another overhaul of transportation will leave countless students in the Choice Schools and Academies programs without a bus to deliver them safely to school. The programs were encouraged by the superintendent and state in recent years; however, this year they are cutting transportation for these students.  In addition, our facilities are identified as some of the oldest buildings in the state, but custodial services for maintenance were slashed too.

It is unfathomable how these decisions were determined and how they fail to consider the security of our students and faculty.  The safety and well-being of our children must remain a priority in administrative decisions.  Paterson Public School administration should make a request for emergency funding from the State Department of Education immediately.

State control of Paterson school district has proven ineffective, detrimental and wasteful.  It is time for the return of local control which will allow our elected Board of Education commissioners, parents, faculty and students to lean in and create a healthy educational system for all.

Unfortunately, another school year has been branded with chaos before the school doors open.

Respectfully yours,

Shavonda Sumter

 

Author: Shavonda Sumter

havonda E. Sumter was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly on November 8, 2011, to represent the 35th District (Paterson, Prospect Park, Haledon, North Haledon, Garfield and Elmwood Park). Assemblywoman Sumter serves on the Heath and Senior Services and Commerce and Economic Development Committees. She is also the Secretary of the NJ Legislative Black Caucus. Assemblywoman Sumter is the youngest of two children born to Charles and Bonnie Williams. A native of Paterson, Shavonda is a product of the public and private schools of Paterson, Prospect Park and Haledon. While in high school she served as Class President for her entire four years, and it was during this time that her passion for public service was ignited. Shavonda received her MBA in Health Care Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Silberman College of Business. Shavonda has sought to use her diverse talents and skills gained academically, professionally and through community service to help improve the lives of people in various communities. In her professional life, she has served in a variety of capacities in health related fields, currently serving as Director of Behavioral Health Services at Hackensack UMC Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, NJ. She is the recipient of numerous awards and citations, recognizing her accomplishments as a community organizer, role model and an agent of change. In addition to her professional involvements, Shavonda is a dedicated community servant. She currently serves as Vice President of the Paterson Branch NAACP; former Chair Board of Trustees St. Luke CDC; former Chair, Greater Paterson OIC; former Treasurer/Secretary Paterson Municipal Utility Authority. Shavonda and her husband, Kenneth (a longtime educator in the City of Paterson) are the loving parents of a daughter, Tyler I. Sumter, and a son Kenneth Sumter.

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