Jessica OrbonNov 15, 2017, 6:58 pm

Education error: Audit shows Bayonne’s $2M deficit is a mistake

Employees were let go in April; superintendent works for their return

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BAYONNE -- A newly-released audit of Bayonne's Board of Education finances has people shocked after it shows a major budget deficit was actually a mistake. In a new audit released Tuesday, it was discovered that the more than $2 million deficit that sparked a series of layoffs and a tax hike was an error.

Back in April, students at Bayonne High School staged a walkout to protest the firing of hundreds of teachers and city employees, who were let go because of a more than $2 million budget deficit and a city that could no longer afford to employ them.

The deficit also made a major change to the city's taxes. After three years of no school tax increases, last year’s school taxes in Bayonne were raised by six percent to make up for the hole in the city's education budget.

The confusion started with a $4.7 million surplus that went unreported back in 2015. The newly-released audit shows that the school district was never in deficit; nor is it currently. Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Wanko says that since taking the position in July, he has been working to correct the mistake that affected many lives.

Of the hundreds of teachers who were fired, most of them were given their jobs back. Now, Dr. Wanko says after some teachers retired or moved to other districts, he's working with a matter of only 15 teachers who were never given a chance to return.

Parents of students in the Bayonne School District say there needs to be more checks and balances when it comes to crunching numbers so large.

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