TOMS RIVER – The school district’s request for their state aid to be returned has been denied, officials reported.
The state provides all school districts with a portion of funding. This year, the funding formula was changed based, the state said, on enrollment. Districts with declining enrollment, such as Toms River, saw declining aid.
This left a $2,357,955 hole for this school year. District officials used surplus and maintenance reserve funds to patch the hole for the 2018-2019 school year. So, there was no educational impact this year. However, next year, the cut will be deeper, and there will be less in surplus.
The cuts will be more and more every year, culminating in Toms River getting a third less aid six years from now than it does today. If you add up all the cuts, it is a cumulative reduction by $70,685,260.
The district submitted an application to the New Jersey Department of Education for emergency aid to soften the blow.
This request was denied, reported district business administrator William Doering. Other districts that were similarly affected were also denied.
The request was a temporary fix, he said. The long-term fix is a change in the funding formula that would provide what district officials said is a more fair way of funding education.
Brick schools started a lawsuit challenging the state to fix the funding formula, and Toms River joined the suit.
The state aid reduction, and the decline of aid, is on the agenda of the Toms River Board of Education budget and finance committee meeting. This meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. in Conference Room A at 1144 Hooper Ave. Committee agendas are subject to change.
A local resident created a petition urging the state to return funding. That petition has more than 10,000 signatures. It can be found at change.org/p/new-jersey-governor-save-our-students-help-the-students-of-toms-river-regional-schools-before-it-s-too-late.