District Starts Petition Against School Aid Crisis

Students and staff have been united in fighting for school funding. (Photo courtesy Toms River Schools)

  TOMS RIVER – Another petition to reinstate the aid cut by the state has started making the rounds on social media. 

  While other petitions were started by residents, this one was started by the Toms River School District itself. It calls upon Governor Phil Murphy to reinstate the lost aid to New Jersey schools immediately. It can be found at: change.org/p/governor-phil-murphy-stop-new-jersey-education-cuts-immediately

  This is in response to State Senate bill S-2. S-2 was first proposed by Senate President Stephen Sweeney in 2017 and then signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy in 2018. The bill cuts “adjustment aid” to school districts that the state has deemed to be overfunded due to losing enrollment, including Toms River schools.

  It will cut more than $90 million from the district over the course of its 7-year phase-in. Cuts have already begun, in staff and supplies.

  “In essence, S-2 reflects the state’s belief that the taxpayers of Toms River Regional School District are currently undertaxed by approximately $56 million, and that the state will no longer support communities that are not paying their so called “Local Fair Share” – an arbitrary calculation that we continue to challenge,” the district wrote. “S-2 will generate annual budget deficits that will require significant cuts to the programs and services that have garnered Toms River Regional School District the distinction of being arguably one of the most efficiently-operating model programs in New Jersey.

  “If an immediate halt in the state aid reductions is not implemented, our programs, services, staffing, student supports, academic offerings, athletic and extracurricular opportunities, busing and full-day kindergarten will be eliminated at some point over the remaining five-year life of S-2,” the petition said.

  The petition demands that state leaders immediately put a stop to these cuts and address the funding formula that S-2 is based upon so that aid is distributed fairly to all districts.

  “This petition is an acknowledgement that five years of relentless work from our district leaders – who foresaw the flaws in the funding formula, provided specific and indisputable details through multiple communications and meetings, offered public testimony to both the Senate and Assembly budget committees on this issue, and helped lead multiple protests in Trenton – has gone ignored,” the petition stated.

Other Petitions

  There are several other petitions urging the powers that be to change their mind.

  One was started by Renee Godino telling state leaders that Toms River students deserve more.

  “Toms River Schools are in a major crisis, we have had so many cuts already and over the next few years it’s going to go from bad to worse,” Godino wrote. What’s on the chopping block?

  • Co-curricular activities
  • Sports at all levels
  • Clubs
  • Drama clubs, musicals, forensics
  • Marching bands
  • Full day kindergarten could go.
  • Bussing within 2 miles for elementary and 2.5 miles for secondary could go.

  Her petition can be found by going to Change.org and searching for “TR kids deserve better.”

  Last year, Toms River resident Bridget Maillard created a petition to show support for the school district and urged the state to return the aid. She warned that future cuts could include athletics, clubs, and of course teaching staff and paraprofessionals. She was right.

  “Without these vital programs available to our students, gaining acceptance to a college, the military, or the transitional career is almost impossible. And without these social interactions, the personal development and the reinforcement of life skills will become neglected for our students, making it extremely challenging for our students to stay involved. With that, the concern over drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and vaping becomes even more paramount, especially with Ocean County’s growing opioid epidemic,” she said.

  To visit the petition, go to Change.org and search for “Bridget Maillard.”

  She also urged residents to reach out to the governor directly at 609-292-6000 or Constituent.relations@nj.gov.

  The 9th District legislators have created another petition to tell Governor Phil Murphy to reinstate the aid. That can be found at senatenj.com/saveourschools/.