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It's been an eventful year and tenure as Superintendent battling budget concerns, the S2 legislation/School Funding Formula and other challenges but Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent David Healy has announced his retirement effective January 1, 2021.

Healy, who was hired in 2014 in Toms River after previously serving as Superintendent for the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional District and Assistant Superintendent in Middletown, said in a statement Thursday morning that it was just time.

“It just feels right, and I have complete confidence in the team we have assembled to continue our mission and fulfill the ongoing vision of this district," Healy said, adding that, “when you know, you know.”

Healy’s goal for the remainder of his time as Superintendent that the district will have returned to a blended-learning model or, ideally, full in-person instruction.

“It has been my sincere pleasure and distinct honor to lead what I consider to be the finest school district within the most child-centered school community in the state of New Jersey,” Healy said. “I have immense pride in what we’ve been able to accomplish, gratitude for the relationships and friendships that will last beyond my retirement, and confidence that Toms River Regional Schools is better positioned to confront the many challenges facing public school districts in New Jersey.”

Healy has been considered retiring since the end of the 2019-2020 school year, following longtime colleagues, assistant superintendents Marc Natanagara and Deb McKenna (who previously serves as Principal at Toms River Intermediate East), retired from public education, but he said he felt there was unfinished business in tackling the School Funding Formula and implementing Covid-19 related plans in the district including for graduations and a plan for learning.

The Toms River Board of Education was notified of Healy’s decision to retire on Thursday morning.

“I must express my appreciation for the Toms River School Board and the members who have served throughout my tenure. They placed their trust and confidence in me and, throughout my time here, have provided the support necessary to achieve the many lofty goals we set for Toms River Schools.”

That feeling is mutual with the Toms River Board of Education.

“It is my sincere hope that Mr. Healy is as proud of his accomplishments with our Toms River Regional School District as I am to have worked with him to facilitate our community's collective goals,” Board President Anna Polozzo said in prepared remarks. “As President of the Toms River Schools Board of Education, as a taxpayer, and a parent in our school district, I personally along with the entire Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education am very grateful for Superintendent David Healy's efforts for our community.”

There are dozens of New Jersey school districts who were forced to scale back on spending and come up with new budget plans after the state took a Robin Hood approach by taking funds from districts doing well or hanging in there and giving it to underfunded schools.

The School Funding Formula which was signed into law to make things fairer is cutting nearly $70,000,000.00 from Toms River Schools over the next seven years.

In response, there have been district wide bus trips of students, faculty and staff to the Statehouse in Trenton by Toms River Schools to fight for funding.

In January of 2020, more cuts were made with Kindergarten, which had been discussed as a possible cut, being spared.

Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent David Healy told 92.7 WOBM News on January 31 that the reason kindergarten was on the chopping block was because of the finances they're losing from the S2 legislation.

"In terms of our full-day kindergarten, that it was on the chopping block at all was purely a matter of finances resulting from millions in state aid losses from S2, and the fact that kindergarten is not technically a state-mandated program," Healy told 92.7 WOBM News. "The certainty of its impact-- amidst confusing and unpredictable maneuvering by state officials-- made retaining full-day K as high a priority as implementing it was in 2015."

Then came the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020 which eventually led to Toms River Schools and Healy making the decision to go all virtual to begin the 2020-21 academic year.

It came at a cost.

"We presented on two occasions, following hundreds of hours of work, we put together a comprehensive and meaningful hybrid model which was combination of virtual and in person but despite us having that plan in place, there were staffing issues that plagued us," Healy told 92.7 WOBM News on August 14. "We still have 170 staff members that won't be able to return. We also had a number on leave and maternity staff members we couldn't find replacements for this year. The staffing issues put the breaks on hybrid learning. We looked at everything."

"It's the right thing to do is to go virtual, then hybrid, it's the most courteous thing to do," Healy said. "We always keep students and staff safe. Our decisions are educational, well thought out and data driven. it's a painstaking process."

During Healy’s tenure as Superintendent in Toms River he explains that he is proud to have overseen the implementation of full-day kindergarten in 2015, Career Academies installed at each of the three high schools, a “high-performing district” designation by the New Jersey Department of Education in 2017 and 2020, earning the Certificate of Excellence for Financial Reporting six years straight, placement on the College Board’s 9th Annual AP® Honor Roll, being recognized as the “Distinguished Organization of the Year” by the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce in 2017,  the procurement of more than $4 million in competitive grants and sponsorships, including naming rights for what is now RWJBarnabas Health Aren; and the implementation of the Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) and passage of a bond referendum in 2019 which has led to more than $165 million in facilities improvements and upgrades throughout the district.

Healy also oversaw students in the district helping Toms River Township celebrate their 250th Anniversary in 2016 when they sang Christmas carols and put ornaments up on the  tree in the municipal building downtown.

"It's a testament to the pride of Toms River and how the school district and the township has historically worked very closely and well together," Healy told 92.7 WOBM News on December 2, 2016.

You can follow Vin Ebenau on Twitter and Instagram and email news tips to vin.ebenau@townsquaremedia.com.

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