TOMS RIVER – The loss of another $8.1 million in state aid will test school district officials on their math, specifically how to support the education and programs of the district when a large number is subtracted from the funding.
The loss is tied to a bill created by state leadership called S-2. It took certain kinds of state funds from districts that were considered “overfunded” and gave more funds to districts that were considered “underfunded.” Many local districts were hit hard. Jackson announced it will be losing $4.3 million. Brick is facing a cut of $5.2 million.
Toms River received notice that the aid figures for the 2021-2 school year will be down by $8.1 million. This is a loss of about 14 percent from last year’s aid.
It is important to note that the reduction is a cumulative loss. In other words, the district is losing $8.1 million next year on top of millions lost this year and the year before.
For Toms River schools (which include South Toms River, Beachwood and Pine Beach), S-2 will cut more than $90 million in state aid over the course of several years. This has already resulted in a loss of dozens of positions.
“Obviously, this is an alarming number to see on paper, and it’s unfortunate to say the least to be in this position,” said interim Superintendent Thomas Gialanella. “However, we’ve been working closely with the state and the New Jersey Department of Education to mitigate the effect of our anticipated losses, and we remain confident that we can reach a resolution that will not do irreparable harm to our district next year and beyond.”
A different state law prevents school districts from raising taxes more than 2 percent in a year. The two main forms of funding for a district are taxes and state aid. So, state aid is going down, and schools aren’t allowed to raise taxes enough to fill that hole.
District officials have also been fighting to learn how the S-2 funding formula was calculated. The state has said it is based on proprietary information. Toms River, along with other districts impacted, are suing the state regarding this. The courts have ordered the New Jersey Department of Education to release the financial details of the funding formula, school officials have said.
A nonprofit education foundation has been started to raise money for extracurricular activities so they won’t be lost to funding drops. For more information on their upcoming events, visit facebook.com/tomsrivereducationfoundation