TOMS RIVER – In the wake of severe budget cuts, another petition has been started by a resident trying to make sure kids don’t suffer – this time by losing after-school activities.
“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
- 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.
“All of the pieces of a school that give it life and provide opportunities for students to explore possibilities for their futures – are on the table,” she said.
She called on every resident – not just those with children in the school district – to come together and show Trenton what is at stake.
“We are a strong community and we need to show Trenton our passion and our fight,” she said.
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.
In Toms River schools (which include South Toms River, Beachwood and Pine Beach), S-2 will cut approximately $83 million in state aid over the next six years to Toms River, including $2.8 million in the 2019-2020 budget.
Cuts have already started. The 2019-2020 school district budget includes cuts of 77 positions.
Business Administrator William Doering confirmed in May that they are removing 58 teaching jobs, 12 secretarial positions, six facilities jobs and one administrative position. However, only 31 of these employees are being cut. The rest are leaving due to retirements and the positions are not being filled.
In addition to these full time jobs, the district will also be cutting 55 assistant coaching positions and 10 percent from accounts for supplies and textbooks, Doering confirmed.
There were a few other petitions created to urge the powers that be to change their mind.
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.
Approximately 16,400 people have signed the petition as of press time. 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.email@example.com.
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/. It has about 3,000 signatures as of press time.