Some New Jersey school districts laying off educators as possible teacher shortage looms

05/27/2021

Politico

Desks are arranged in a classroom at Panther Valley Elementary School, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Nesquehoning, Pa. 

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Many states are churning out innovative policies in response to a worsening teacher shortage that could reach a full-blown crisis next fall, but in New Jersey, several districts are laying educators off by the dozens.

Non-renewal notices have gone out to at least 14 elementary school teachers — including a Teacher of the Year recipient — in Union Township, 11 educators in Glen Rock (though that number has been disputed by the Board of Education), 36 staff members in Lakewood and 70 staffers in Toms River. Librarians are also reporting firings, with one district eliminating the position of school library media specialist for all of its schools.

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Long-delayed Gateway Tunnel project will clear an important milestone, source says

Posted May 27, 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday will release a long-delayed environmental impact statement for the Gateway Tunnel project, removing another hurdle in the multiyear effort to get federal funding for the new train tunnel under the Hudson River, according to an official familiar with the matter, who spoke under condition of anonymity in advance of the official announcement.

The federal government and the states of New Jersey and New York also still must agree on how the project is will be funded, and the Federal Transit Administration must raise the project’s rating in order to make Gateway eligible for funding.

Under the former administration, the U.S. Transportation Department opposed Gateway, and lowered the project’s rating making it ineligible for federal assistance.

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As Newark schools plan for the fall, questions remain about vaccination, safety measures, and family hesitancy

PATRICK WALL, CHALKBEAT NEWARK | MAY 28, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is urging all schools to operate fully in person this fall. On Monday, she met with Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger León.

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As Newark schools inch back toward normalcy, the big question now is what to expect this fall.

Will students and staffers still be required to wear masks and socially distance? Will eligible students get vaccinated? And will parents who kept their children home this spring even after classrooms reopened be ready to send them back in September?

Those uncertainties hung in the air as Randi Weingarten, a national teachers union leader, visited a Newark school Monday. The visit was part of the union’s publicity campaign promoting educators’ role in reopening classrooms this spring and calling for a return to full-time in-person learning this fall.

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Plans Advance on Development of Former Newark Bears Stadium Site

A digital rendering of what the new site will look like under May Newark LLC's proposal.
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NEWARK, NJ – Plans to turn the former Newark Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium site into a thriving hub for residential, retail and small business spaces are beginning to make headway under its new developer. 

Just one month after the Newark City Council amended a redevelopment agreement for May Newark LLC, an affiliate of Accurate Builders and Developers, to head the project, the new developer has completed the purchase of the property and released its initial plans for the site. 

The plan calls for the construction of a mixed-use development to be built in nine phases. It will consist of approximately 4,200 residential units; 200 affordable units; up to 3,000 parking spaces; at least 100,000-square-feet of hospitality/destination retail; co-working space for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and freelancers; and publicly accessible green space.

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N.J. activists still fighting for change gather one year after George Floyd killing

Posted May 25, 2021

The small group of people who congregated in front of the Essex County Historic Courthouse in Newark on Tuesday to mark one year since George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis was a far cry from the thousands who gathered there last May.

On May 30 in 2020, protesters met at the courthouse and marched through Newark’s streets against police brutality as part of a national wave of protests. The day remained peaceful, even after a group broke off from the main rally to march to the 1st police precinct and it became tense at times.

“It was just so unbelievable to see so many people of all walks of life: white, Black, young, old,” recalled Alfreda Daniels as she stood outside of the courthouse on Tuesday. “It was just beautiful to see.”

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NJ schools to get $2.7 billion — and rules on how to spend it

JOHN MOONEY, EDUCATION WRITER | MAY 26, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Students heading back to school

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New Jersey’s school leaders are getting a first look this week at the details for more than $2.7 billion in federal pandemic aid heading to their public schools.

Needless to say, the amounts for many districts are dizzying, yet so are the processes and procedures for how it will all work.

The state Department of Education this week notified districts of their aid amounts and other details in the massive COVID-19 relief program approved by President Joe Biden and Congress — a total of $122 billion distributed to schools across the nation.

The money — the largest of three major school-relief packages from Washington since last year — is meant to bolster districts’ resources for a wide range of support and services for students during and after the pandemic, from extra academic programs to counselors to air-ventilation systems.

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N.J. Republican gubernatorial debate called off after candidate refuses COVID test

Posted May 24, 2021

The second of two Republican primary gubernatorial debates scheduled for this week has been called off after one of the participants refused to comply with COVID-19 testing requirements, the debate’s sponsor said Monday evening.

Hirsh Singh, who declared last week he wouldn’t take part in the debate because it was going to be virtual instead of in-person, said no to NJ PBS’s rules about providing a negative COVID-19 test prior to Wednesday’s debate, according to a statement from the public television station.

The first — and now only — debate between Singh and former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli is expected to go on as scheduled Tuesday night. It will be hosted by radio station New Jersey 101.5.

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New Jersey lifts mask mandate, social distancing rules in time for Memorial Day

05/24/2021

Politico

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a news conference in Hoboken, N.J.

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New Jersey is lifting its mask mandate after having been one of the few holdouts in adopting the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday.

Murphy’s new directive, which takes effect Friday, the start of the Memorial Day weekend, gives New Jersey residents — even those who aren’t fully vaccinated — the green light to remove their masks and other face coverings in most cases. Matching the CDC’s guidance, the order excludes settings such as health care facilities, jails, schools, child care centers and public transportation networks.

Businesses can continue to require customers and employees to wear coverings, Murphy said.

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AG Grewal: My mission is to restore the public’s trust in police | Opinion

Posted May 23, 2021

We asked four attorneys general — Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and former attorneys general Chris Porrino, Peter Harvey and John Farmer, Jr. — their opinion on how police reform has progressed since George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer a year ago.

By Gurbir S. Grewal

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says public trust in law enforcement melted away with each minute a Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd’s prone neck. My job, he says, is to restore community trust in police. Shaded images on the side from top to bottom: Former Attorneys General Chris Porrino, Peter Harvey and John Farmer, Jr.
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The source of law enforcement’s legitimacy in America — and the ability to effectively enforce our laws — is a public trust. Trust that government’s coercive power will be wielded fairly and justly.

On May 25, 2020, public trust in law enforcement melted away with each minute a Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd’s prone neck, as millions watched a bystander’s recording in righteous anger.

Though the tragedy of Minneapolis was one episode, what happened that day is also a byproduct of a flawed system — one with severe racial consequences — that is now held up in the national spotlight like never before.

It is my mission, here in New Jersey, to restore community trust in police. Our work began long before Mr. Floyd’s death and has only accelerated in the year since. Here in New Jersey, we are reimagining the profession of policing.

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Federal money to fund broadband expansion in rural, low-income communities

By Nikita BiryukovMay 21 2021

New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy.

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Millions of dollars in federal funds could soon bring high-speed internet to the state’s rural and low and middle-income communities.

Gov. Phil Murphy and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) on Friday announced funding for broadband expansion from a $190 million fund provided to the state under the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill President Joe Biden signed into law in March.

“Every New Jerseyan deserves access to reliable, affordable, and fast broadband internet,” Murphy. “Unfortunately, too many residents and businesses, especially in rural and low-income areas of our state, are still unable to take advantage of broadband internet access.”

The pandemic exposed inequities in internet access across the state. As the virus pushed students out of the school buildings and into remote classrooms, many found themselves without suitable devices and connections.

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