Jersey Shore Representatives join Toms River Schools in Trenton
Students, teachers, administrators, and parents from the Toms River Regional School District took off in busloads and cars to the statehouse in Trenton Tuesday to protest the state aid cuts that have put classes, activities and staff jobs on the line due to the S2 legislation also known as the school funding formula.
In order for school districts like Toms River and Brick to succeed in their efforts to have funding restored, they'll need the three key leaders who were present today along with their local governments to reach the ear of lawmakers in Trenton and Governor Phil Murphy.
10th District Senator Jim Holzapfel as well as Assemblymen Greg McGuckin, and Assemblyman Dave Wolfe who represent Northern Ocean County in Trenton were in attendance Tuesday morning to applaud the school districts and stand with them against any cuts to school funding.
“We have always been opposed to this disastrous plan and we hope that the voices of these students will be heard by all,” Holzapfel said. “Students from every Toms River school joined together to demonstrate that they will not roll over and allow their sports, music, and arts programs to be canceled. Relief is needed now for these schools and their students who are demanding action from the Governor.”
The 10th District Lawmakers cite numbers from the US Census Bureau that state the median income for the entire state is $76,475.
Toms River has a median income of $76,051 and Brick Township has a median income of $73,051.
McGuckin said those numbers are a clear indication that these townships are middle class.
“When Governor Murphy was campaigning, he promised to have the backs of the middle class, and no town is more middle class than Toms River,” McGuckin said. “Now that Murphy recognizes ‘Central Jersey exists,’ as he recently stated, he can give us back the money that we rightfully deserve.”
Schools in the 10th Legislative District have had their funding severely cut under Governor Murphy’s budget, and attempts to have the Department of Education provide full transparency when determining Local Fair Share have been unsuccessful.
The Governor’s new school funding plan will result in additional cuts in each of the next several years to Toms River.
The district has already seen the termination of several school employees, and a discontinuation of sports, arts and extracurricular activities may be next.
“While Toms River is undeniably middle class, the Department of Education has labeled the district as ‘rich’ which has had a detrimental effect on how funding is calculated for our schools,” McGuckin continued. “We have introduced legislation to require the Department of Education to disclose the school funding formulas for all schools throughout the state. This legislation is our only option to ensure full transparency by the DOE with our school districts and taxpayers.”
Toms River Regional Schools had asked for $4.4-million in emergency school aid to help with a budget that's run out of wells to draw more funding from but what the they received was $854,634 from the New Jersey Department of Education drawing their ire on Monday.
"This is nothing short of a slap in the face to our district, our students, our families, and our community. What is clear, and disconcerting, is that the NJDOE either does not understand how to manage a school budget, or they do not care."
Several school and community groups voiced their support for Toms River Schools leading into the rally on Tuesday.