Teachers, Parents March After Millions Vanish From Bayonne School Budget, Causing Layoffs

BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A march was held for missing money in Bayonne, New Jersey Monday – after as much as $12 million that has simply vanished from school bank accounts.

As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, angry parents, students and teachers were carrying signs and chanting Monday.

“Fight for our children! Fight our teachers!” they chanted, answering calls through a bullhorn by parent John Sebick.

They marched to Bayonne High School to protest the layoffs of 287 staffers — 263 of them teachers — after as much as $7 million to $12 million turned up missing from the school budget.

“I think it’s a travesty what’s happening to our system,” said Sebick said.

Sebick led the chants outside the school board meeting. He wants to know how that much money could simply disappear.

“I’m fighting because I want the heads of the school superintendent and business administrator to step up to the plate show us where that missing money is,” he said.

Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis has a fourth-grader in the district, and has asked the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office to investigate.

“That’s a great question” how $7 million to $12 million goes missing, he said.

A state auditor is now trying to answer it.

“Our school alone is slated to lose 34 people as of last month’s list, which I find appalling and disgusting,” a parent said.

Inside the meeting, one angry parent even composed a song for the outgoing superintendent and business administrator.

“Dr. McGeehan, our teachers are leaving. You and Leo are the ones to blame. Look at what you’ve done You should ashamed,” the song went.

The school board eventually approved a new budget that brings back 88 of the laid-off staffers, and announced the state has agreed to an interest-free loan to help even more.

“We hope that that money comes in soon,” said Bayonne School Board President Joseph Broderick, “because the sooner that money comes back, the sooner we bring more people back.”

The revised budget carries with it a 5.6 percent property tax increase that will cost the average Bayonne homeowner about $550 more each year. Meanwhile, a new schools superintendent starts in July, and he will have the challenge of trying to clean up the financial mess and rehire more teachers.

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