Toms River Schools Community plans a rally to save the district in Trenton
When faced with adversity or unfairness, you can either sit back and let it happen or fight for what is right.
Toms River School officials have continued their fight for their future over the last couple years following a school funding formula developed by lawmakers in Trenton that seeks to deal a crippling bow to a number of school districts throughout the state.
There are dozens of districts forced to scale back on spending and come up with new budget plans after the state of New Jersey 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 will cut nearly $70,000,000.00 from Toms River Schools over the course of the next seven years.
In March of this year, 71 school districts from all over the state took buses to the state house in Trenton the way Toms River School Officials and Parent groups plan to do again themselves next Tuesday December 10th and push for fairness.
The coalition of a schools advocacy group known as 'Support Our Students' made a push in March for the governor and state lawmakers to re-work the school funding formula law passed in July of 2018 so that all districts are receiving the funding they need, and that dozens of them aren't seeing funds get cut.
Michael Harris, the Superintendent of Southampton Schools in Burlington County, is in charge of the SOS group and told WOBM News before the March trip that they're not looking for the state to revoke funding from the underfunded districts but are pleading for Governor Phil Murphy and lawmakers to stop taking the funds from their districts to make it happen.
"We are not advocating that the formula should be thrown out, we're just saying the formula needs to be re-looked at and studied," Harris said. "We support the fact that legislators are increasing funding for the districts who were previously underfunded. We're not saying as a group that you need to take that money away from them and give it back to us."
Harris said that state aid should be helping every district, not just some, and hurting the rest.
"State aid should not have a negative impact on any student in this state," Harris said. "That should not be a reason for the lack of state aid. The reduction of state aid should not negatively impact students and that's what's going to happen over a period of time."
Toms River Regional Schools said that if they have to make cuts there will be 300 additional staff members will be laid off, sports programs as well as band, theater and other extra curricular activities will be cut before next school year (2020-21), there will be no more kindergarten and the class sizes will go up while the faculty members will decrease.
Governor Phil Murphy is facing a test from Toms River Schools to see if his words are just words or if there's any meaning behind them.
Toms River Schools has requested $4.4-million in emergency aid and are still awaiting an answer from Governor Murphy.
Parent organizations are assembling a caravan to the state capital with TR Schools next Tuesday and both are encouraging the residents and families of Toms River to join them on site or to raise their voices and share in the unity of fighting for funding.
The rally planned for Tuesday was the brainchild of Toms River parents and community members.
"It's our parents and the community (including the Chamber, YMCA, TRPD, and others) that are helping to get the word out," Michael Kenny, Toms River Regional Schools Spokesman said.
"For our part, district students and staff will be meeting at High School North that morning at 9 a.m. to depart for Trenton. The rally itself will be 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 225 W State St., The district is providing busing for a set number of students and staff. As a community event, however, no transportation is being provided, and parents, residents, business owners, etc. are being encouraged to carpool," Kenny said. "We hope this rally is the most impactful event in our ongoing fight to resolve this critical and urgent issue that affects the future of all of Toms River."