Paterson Education Fund Director: Paterson Schools Need to Return to Local Control

The Paterson School District has been under state control for more than 23 years and the Paterson Education Fund has been working on community involvement for the school district. The organization’s Executive Director Rosie Grant told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that negotiations are underway with the teachers’ union for a new contract.

“We’ve been hearing that for a while and I trust that it is,” said Grant.

According to Grant, it has been at least four years that the teachers’ union has been without a contract and that both the superintendent and the head of the union have said that they’re close to reaching an agreement. Locally an agreement has been reached, she said, but at the state level negotiations continue.

Grant said that the Paterson school district has been under state control for too long.

“It’s been too long. We need local control, we’re fighting for that also,” Grant said.

About two years ago, a lawsuit was filed for Paterson to return to local control but when the Newark case was dismissed, the Paterson lawsuit was as well, according to Grant.

“We really need to return to local control. It was a five-year takeover and here we are in the year 2014,” Grant said.

Although the state has been in control more than 23 years, Grant said that there have been improvements. The schools within the district have improved and the graduation rate has increased. According to Grant, about five years ago the high school graduation rate was at 46 percent and as of 2013, it had increased to 72 percent.

“It’s not a wonderful number, but it’s something to celebrate because we’ve had this movement in the right direction and we expect to keep moving until we’re graduating all kids,” said Grant.

Part of the improvements include community involvement, said Grant. As the district continues to work to improve, Grant says that the schools need adequate resources such as facilities and money in order to give students what they need.