NEWARK – On the day when revelations of the Newark school district approving tens of thousands of dollars a month in spending on take-out food and catering were released, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka spoke out about his continued desire to see state-appointed Newark School Superintendent Cami Anderson leave her position as soon as possible.
“We don’t have a statutory responsibility, but we have a moral one,” said Baraka, referencing the fact that Newark’s schools have been under state control since 1995. “Our responsibility to make sure the schools work in Newark supersedes any law that separates us from the school system.Your circulatory system works inside of a larger system. When one of those systems breaks down, you become sick, which is the same with what’s happening in our city. When the school system is not functioning, the whole city becomes sick. Our job is to fix that, because at the end of day it affects economic growth, it affects workforce investment, it affects crime. We want to look at it as a part of everything.”
Last month, Gov, Chris Christie, who appointed Anderson in 2011, announced that the state had renewed Anderson’s contract for three more years, and that Anderson will receive a 1.6 percent annual increase on her base salary of $251,500. The governor’s administration made the announcement just weeks after a wave of Newark public school student protests that called for the removal of Anderson, as well as for the termination of the Anderson-backed One Newark school reorganization plan. The plan is set to launch in September.
According to a report today on NBC New York’s website, a review of district spending over a 15-month period ending in May found that Newark administrators spent more than $330,000, or an average of about $22,000 a month on take-out and catering. These alleged expenditures were incurred despite the fact the school district has a $42 million budget deficit.
“The reason I still stand for the idea that we need a new superintendent is because I was a principal of a school,” Baraka, the former principal of Newark’s Central High School, added. “I understand if my staff and students lost faith and trust in me, there would be nothing that I could say that would transform the school. If they won’t follow me, then how will they follow any idea that I have? I think that the prudent thing to do is to allow us to push the reset button. You want to push the red button, so that things get better. That’s what we want to do.”
Anderson did not immediately respond to an email from PolitickerNJ.com seeking comment.