Earlier this month parents, teachers and students gathered together to protest the Paterson Board of Education’s failure to come up with a solution to the exodus of staff members from the district—since 2019, over 1,300 employees have resigned. Paterson Education Association President John McEntee detailed the problem in a letter to the Paterson community citing the growing wage gap and poor working conditions as the primary reasons for the staff’s departure. Parent Safa Abualaydah, a PTO president, said,
As a parent and a mom, and as a big supporter of the teachers of my school and all the teachers all over, I have to go and support no matter what. As a representative of most of the parents who attend the PTO meetings, we can’t stand on the side, we have to support our teachers. All the professions in the world are created because of teachers, and they deserve a contract, a fair one, that’s why we’re protesting.
Today Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh added his support for continued negotiations between Paterson’s teacher’s union and the school district. “After speaking with both sides, I am confident an agreement can be reached,” said Mayor Sayegh. “Our teachers deserve a contract, especially when we are dealing with a country-wide teacher shortage. Our city has always relied on the amazing work of our teachers as they mold the minds of future generations. I am dismayed to hear that our teachers have been working without a contract, yet I appreciate their dedication to our children.”
It’s clear that the last few years have been challenging for everyone in education. However, as we look ahead, we collectively must commit to providing our educators and students with the resources they need to heal from the stress of the pandemic. I believe the Paterson administration and Board of Education have both the power and responsibility to ensure that our educators and students get those vital resources, as it only serves to position the district for tremendous success.
Mayor Sayegh also announced his support for S-2982, which would establish a minimum teacher starting salary at $60,000. “We need a statewide and long-term solution to our teacher shortage. Our children deserve nothing less.”
PEA members were additionally irked when on October 12th, following Superintendent Eileen Shafer’s recommendation, the school board voted 5-4 to award large raises to administrators. According to North Jersey, the school board agreed to give raises ranging from 8.9% to 11.3% to district Business Administrator Richard Matthews and four assistant superintendents, David Cozart, Cicely Warren, Cheryl Coy and Joanna Tsimpedes. The administrative raises also include a 3.25% cost-of-living hike and what the district calls “right-sizing raises.” The vote had failed the previous month but swung the administrators’ way last week.
— Paterson Ed Assn. (@PatersonEa) September 30, 2022