🎉 Newark schools spent $50,000 on end-of-year event, report says

🎉 Menu shows bar with beer on tap

🎉 School district denies alcohol consumption, price tag

NEWARK — More staff than students from New Jersey's largest school district enjoyed a $50,000 event at a swanky venue to wind down the school year, according to a published report.

Newark schools paid for 275 adults and 140 children to attend the bash on Saturday, June 1 at the Forest Lodge, TAPintoNewark first reported. The school board unanimously approved funding for the Superintendent Staff Fun Day last month.

Most of the funds went toward admission and food costs but a few other expenses stood out.

The district paid for a DJ, four inflatable carnival booths, a police officer, and a rescue squad on standby. Photos of the event also showed volleyball, basketball, and a rock climbing wall.

A district spokesperson said the event was not a party and served a "valuable purpose."

"The benefits of employee wellness, fitness, and morale are well documented. They include heightened engagement, productivity, focus on shared objectives, and ultimately greater success for the organization," said Nancy Deering.

Deering also denied that the event cost $50,000 — she said the "adjusted cost" was $43,813.90.

Newark Staff Fun Day (Allison James-Frison via Facebook)
Newark Staff Fun Day (Allison James-Frison via Facebook)

School event with beer on tap?

A menu showed that bar service with beer on tap from noon to 3:30 p.m. was included in the price. The bar offered two domestic brews and one import. The event ran from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the invoice published by TAPintoNewark.

According to state law, public funds cannot be used to cover the costs of alcoholic beverages at school events.

However, Deering said there was no opportunity for anyone at the event to purchase or consume alcohol.

"There is no factual basis for the headline that taxpayers or the school district paid for alcohol or that the event included 'bar service.' No alcoholic beverages were served or available," said Nancy Deering.

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Newark Staff Fun Day (Allison James-Frison via Facebook)
Newark Staff Fun Day (Allison James-Frison via Facebook)

Newark schools state aid could pass $1.25 billion

A $50,000 event is a drop in the bucket for the Newark school district, which would get 80% of its funding from state aid if Gov. Murphy's proposed budget for 2024-25 passes this month.

Newark schools approved a $1.5 billion budget in March, Chalkbeat Newark reported. Over $1.25 billion of the budget would come from state funds.

The proposed budget increased overall state aid to New Jersey schools by over $900 million but still cut aid to nearly 140 districts. Murphy signed a bill last month to help schools facing cuts but it would not fully restore their funding.

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