“Pay now or pay later.”
That’s an adage that is true in a lot of situations. School and government officials know it all too well. They know that if they don’t do maintenance on a school building, for example, they will eventually pay more to repair it when something big breaks.
On a smaller scale, think of it this way: Do you do oil changes or do you replace your engine when it seizes?
Gov. Phil Murphy and the Senate leadership are being faced with a very real “pay now or pay later” situation, even though they don’t know it yet. They don’t want to give more aid schools impacted by S-2. This is a law that restructured the school aid sent to a bunch of school districts. Some managed to get by unscathed. Some got small cuts. Some got huge cuts.
Freehold is looking at the loss of half of its state aid. Toms River and Brick school districts are losing millions a year. Toms River school officials are thinking of cutting sports and clubs. Herbertsville Elementary in Brick is closing, to be turned into a grant-run preschool. There have been significant staff reductions. Class sizes are climbing higher and higher.
Local districts have routinely complained that the residents are being taxed too high and that their money is going to at-risk districts elsewhere in the state.
Well, in a few years, our local districts might become at-risk districts if the cuts continue.
Without after-school activities, many kids will fall into bad behavior. I’ve heard that some students work hard on academics because their coaches demand it. Toms River recently let go all assistant coaches.
In five years time, anyone who can afford to move out of these towns will. And no one will move in. There’s going to be a brain drain of hard working students leaving these districts. Anyone who can afford to will go to private school.
What will be left?
Districts with high crime rates during the worst opioid crisis this area has ever seen. Tons of empty homes as people move out, and there’s no guarantee that the people who move in will have public school kids.
There will be local districts in such need for funding that they will rely on Trenton even more.
Pay now or pay later, Trenton.