Toms River Schools Receive $7.6M In Emergency Funding

Photo by Jason Allentoff

  TOMS RIVER – The regional school district will be receiving $7.6 million in the form of stabilization aid to help the 2022-2023 budget.

  This money will save staff jobs, officials said. By way of comparison, the district was forced to eliminate 40 positions entering the 2021-2022 school year, and noted that there could have been more without pandemic relief funding.

  In total, the district applied for $7,641,573 in its application to the New Jersey Department of Education, which was approved via a board resolution at the Sept. 15 board meeting.

  “Toms River Regional Schools is relieved and extremely grateful for Governor Murphy’s announcement that our requested $7.6 million in stabilization aid will be provided,” said interim Superintendent Stephen Genco. “On behalf of our students and staff, I thank our board members and community supporters who spent time and effort behind the scenes to fight for our district and for Toms River; our team here who thoroughly and successfully developed our comprehensive application for stabilization aid; and of course Governor Murphy, who has heard our collective voice and who has responded. This is indeed wonderful and welcome news.”

ADVERTISEMENT

  Business Administrator William Doering led the development of the district’s application for the stabilization aid.

  “We’re undoubtedly most appreciative of this funding,” said Doering. “It will help immensely in terms of addressing our current fiscal situation as the state continues to review the school aid formula and we work toward having a formula that provides adequate and sustained funding for all school districts.”

  The district has been struggling 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. It will cut tens of millions from aid over the course of its seven-year phase-in.

  Toms River school officials had said that before the cut, aid had remained stagnant for years, so they were already receiving less than they needed. Additionally, at the end of the seven years, the aid will remain at the new lower level for the foreseeable future.

  Toms River isn’t alone in this struggle. There have been several towns locally that have banded together, calling themselves SOS – Save Our Schools. They have also sued to reveal the funding formula that the state used to determine how aid is doled out, but the state has said this is proprietary.

  School officials also credited Board of Education member Jennifer Howe, who works on the budget and finance committee, board of education members, Toms River Councilman Terrance Turnbach, and others who provided testimony to Trenton about how critical the funding is for the district and the greater Toms River community.

  “A lot of hard work from a lot of dedicated people who truly care about this district helped make this happen,” said Board President Joseph Nardini. “Now we can move forward, albeit temporarily, with some fiscal certainty and peace of mind, and for that I thank Governor Murphy.”

  “This is,” Nardini added, “the first piece of good news we’ve received since we started this funding fight years ago. But it’s a biggie.”