Twenty staff members in the East Windsor Public Schools will be laid off for the remainder of the year.
Four kindergarten aides, 12 tutors, 2 library aides and 2 nurses will be out of a job, according to school superintendent Dr. Theresa Kane. The staff members hail from all schools in the district.
It comes after the district accepted three special-needs students mid-year. Under state law, districts must provide the necessary tools and teachers for those students, but it comes at a cost to the individual districts.
In East Windsor's case, that resulted in a $183,000 shortfall for the remainder of the year. According to Kane, the budget shortfall comes as a result of having to move money to help the three students.
"It's frustrating because I understand they need those benefits but what about the students that go there just to go to school," said East Windsor parent Jill Turner.
Turner said it's unfortunate that the district could not come up with the funds to keep the 20 staff members on the payroll, adding that the tutors are vital to her child's education.
"They are critical," she said. "And they're helpful to our students, no matter what grade or where they are educationally."
Supt. Theresa Kane said said they put a hard freeze into effect. It will likely impact next year's budget as well, which is up for a vote next month.
"The school board doesn't like this, but we don't have any choice," said Kane.
She wants to stress to parents that the district's concern is with the state funding process. Smaller districts with less money are at a disadvantage.
East Windsor schools supports all children, Kane said.
Kane said the district plans to bring back the all the laid off staff next year, except for the nurses.
At least one parent is concerned this will have a ripple effect.
"If we lose the talent, we might not get it back and if we don't get it back, then the teachers and the students are all going to suffer," said Theresa Denis, a parent.