Story: Liz Clifford

Reporter

We won the battle, but the war is not over until we get it all.

Andrea Katz

CHESTERFIELD, NJ –

The Chesterfield Township Committee and Board of Education Joint Fair Funding Committee held a meeting on Tuesday night regarding school funding. The announcement? Chesterfield will begin the long journey of becoming a fully funded school district.

Andrea Katz attributes school funding now being center stage to loud voices of parents, teachers, and other concerned community members at various budget hearings, many of which Katz has attended herself. The meeting began as Katz, Chesterfield Township Committeewoman, updated the room of parents and residents with what has been going on the past couple of months. Katz stated she hand-delivered letters to Secaucus to be given to speaker at Speaker Prieto’s office, who was nowhere to be found, with her three children. She waited for a long while, as her kids caused a ruckus in the waiting room until Prieto’s chief of staff finally spoke with Katz. After delivering the letters, written by the Chesterfield community, Katz felt confident about their voices being heard.

After the most recent budget hearing, it was decided the school funding increase would be added to the 2017-2018 school year.

Joining the table with Katz and Scott Heino, the Chesterfield Elementary School Superintendent, was Associate Executive Director for the New Jersey Senate Democrats, Mark Magyar. A lecturer at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, Magyar was previously a reporter for about four decades. During that time, he worked for The Asbury Park Press, The Record, and more recently, NJ Spotlight. Magyar has now returned to politics after spending time in the 1990’s as a policy advisor to Republican Governor Christie Whitman. In 2009, he also participated on the campaign of candidate Chris Daggett for independent gubernatorial.

The Associate Executive Director explained the timeline of events with the raise of school funding. He stated that Chesterfield is the least funded school in the state. Being $5 million underfunded, Chesterfield Elementary is receiving less than 1/10 of what it should be getting. In New Jersey, all the schools in the state are a total of $2.8 billion underfunded. Magyar stated that although the President for New Jersey Senate Democrats is stubborn, he is a pleasure to work with, and assured us that the president wants the raise of funding to “get done” for all schools.

The community raised concerns by questioning Magyar. Will there be taxes added to Chesterfield resident or will the money come from the overfunded school districts? According to Magyar, it will not be added to taxes. Will it be publicly announced as to what will be done when the money is received? Superintendent Heino said, “I don’t see why it wouldn’t be publicized.”

Although these questions were answered, other questions seemed to receive this response: “It all depends on how much money we receive on June 30.”

Andrea Katz, along with the rest of the Chesterfield community, is not done fighting. “We won the battle, but the war is not over until we get it all.”

Mark Magyar | Photo: NJTV News

Last week, after a WBNC News interview, Katz provided a list of elected officials that concerned community members can call to try to move things forward on school funding.

Chairwoman Marlene Caride
201-943-0615

Assemblywoman Mile Jasey
973-762-1886

Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez
201-233-4247

Assemblywoman Angela McNight
201-360-2502

​Assemblyman David Rible
732-974-0400

Assemblyman David Wolf
732-840-9028

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo
​973-450-0489