TOMS RIVER – RWJBarnabas Health will be the “official healthcare partner” of the Toms River Regional School District, in an agreement voted upon at the Dec. 20 Board of Education meeting.
This is a five-year agreement that begins on Jan. 1, 2018. It will provide $637,500 over the course of those five years, according to a press release.
With this partnership, RWJBarnabas would receive naming rights of the Pine Belt Arena on the campus of Toms River High School North. This had previously been known as the Ritacco Center, named after the former superintendent. It had also been the Poland Springs Arena, when the district began selling naming rights.
For now, the building will be known as the RWJBarnabas Health Arena, Superintendent David Healy said. This will serve as the name until an official name is announced.
Staff from RWJBarnabas would consult on any planned health curriculum updates, and would be involved in the Academy School of Biomedicine. Staff will assist teachers in preparing students for future jobs in the field of healthcare. There would also be an involvement in wellness programs like blood drives, screenings, nutrition and athletics.
The biomedicine academy is starting for freshman this year, Healy said. Like the other academies, they will be expanded for sophomores next year. However, there is a groundwork for the academies starting in kindergarten.
“When they arrive in the high school, they will be exposed to so many opportunities, they can be reasonably sure of what career or college path they want to pursue,” he said.
“RWJBarnabas Health is a trusted name with a significant local presence, and this agreement will truly benefit our students and community,” Healy said in a press release. “The revenue for naming rights to the arena – though certainly important and a source of financial stability for our district – is but a small part of what this means. This is more of a partnership than a sponsorship, and what we’re most excited about is to work side-by-side with RWJBarnabas Health in a way that directly and positively impacts our students. Everything from student internships to wellness education to athletic protocol is being discussed, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.”
RWJBarnabas Health runs several hospitals in New Jersey, including Community Medical Center in Toms River, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, and Children’s Specialized Hospital.
“At RWJBarnabas Health, it is our mission to create healthier communities throughout New Jersey. This partnership provides us with the unique opportunity to collaborate with the Toms River School District in a meaningful way to develop education and wellness opportunities that will directly affect the community,” said Amy Mansue, President of the Southern Region of RWJBarnabas Health, in a press release. “This will allow both of our organizations to leverage resources to serve the students and their families. We look forward to investing in health education and overall community wellness.”
The deal was made possible by Fox Run Group, a NJ-based company specializing in sponsorship management. The district had contracted with the company to help secure corporate sponsorships.
Fox Run did the negotiation for this partnership, Healy said. They had been in negotiation with several entities – including Hackensack Meridian Health. It had been erroneously reported in other media that the negotiation with Hackensack was a done deal.