TOMS RIVER – A petition demanding the governor and state legislators return school funding has almost reached its goal of 10,000 signatures.
As of press time, 9,453 people signed at change.org/p/new-jersey-governor-save-our-students-help-the-students-of-toms-river-regional-schools-before-it-s-too-late.
The petition is in response to a change in how state aid is allocated. Districts with declining enrollment, such as Toms River, has seen declining state aid. The aid has been redistributed to schools with increasing enrollment.
It amounts to a potential loss of more than $70 million in aid over the course of seven years, according to school officials.
Bridget Maillard, a resident who created the petition, warned that future cuts could include athletics, clubs, and of course teaching staff and paraprofessionals.
“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.