Atlantic City averted a shutdown of its schools with a $4.25 million payment made Thursday.
The distressed New Jersey city paid the district roughly half of its $8.4 million in property taxes due on April 15, but school board president John Devilin said the $4.25 million amount is enough to keep operations flowing. Gov. Chris Christie filed a lawsuit on April 4 against Atlantic City seeking to freeze spending until it gets on track with nearly $34 million in total payments owed to the school district from April until June 30. Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez denied Christie’s request in an April 8 ruling and set another hearing date for April 19.
“We fully understand and appreciate the difficult financial position the City of Atlantic City is in today,” said Devlin in a statement issued Friday morning. “There has been great transparency between the Board and the City’s Administration and will continue to work side by side for the future benefit of our children and the tax payers of Atlantic City.”
“We are in constant communication with the school district and they understand our situation,” said Atlantic City Mayor Donald Guardian in a statement Friday. “The State is fully aware of these actions. We have always made and will continue to make payments to the school district as one of our top priorities.”
The Atlantic City Board of Education had its bond rating lowered two notches in January by Standard & Poor’s to BB-minus due to liquidity concerns. Moody’s Investors Service slashed the city’s junk-level bond rating two notches to Caa3 on April 4, citing default concerns and a $102 million budget deficit. The gambling hub implemented a 28-day pay period on April 8 to avoid a government shutdown.