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Rice: Newark Must Be Granted Full Local Control Of School District

Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, presides over the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

Legislative Black Caucus To Hold Hearings On Issue of State-Controlled School Districts

TRENTON – Senator Ronald Rice (D-Newark) issued the following statement on reports the New Jersey Department of Education will return fiscal controls to the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board, after nearly two decades of state control:

“I’ve been at the forefront for a number of years, along with leaders of the Legislative Black Caucus, in advocating for the state to give local control back to the people of Newark.

“I continue to argue that the takeover of Newark, which has been controlled for 18 years, along with those of Paterson controlled for 22 years and Jersey City for 24, has not been for the purpose of assisting the students, parents, residents or the taxpayers in the district. From my perspective, it’s been done to control budgets, personnel issues and to advance privatization.

“While it was good to hear the assistant attorney general say the state is going to turn fiscal management back over to the school board, that simply is not enough. Newark has met the state requirements to regain total control of the district and that should be granted.

“The Newark School District is facing a $57 million budget deficit. After failing to resolve the budget issues plaguing the district, the state now wants to hand financial control back over to the board. But the board’s hands are still tied. Any decisions it makes, whether they be to audit district finances or to eliminate consultants or other state-backed expenditures – could be vetoed by the superintendent.

“Not giving governance back to the district is still taxation without representation. This is unacceptable. I am going to continue along with civil rights groups and local taxpayers to insist that Newark gets what it earned by passing QSAC thresholds, and that is total local control. I urge the legal teams arguing on Newark’s behalf to take this case as far as necessary, and I pledge to do the same.

“The Legislative Black Caucus will be holding hearings throughout the state regarding state control of our schools so that the Legislature has a record of those on both sides of the issue in various regions of the state. I look forward to working with the Senate President and the Assembly Speaker as we move forward and will be announcing hearing dates soon.”

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