Home Schools Funding to Toms River Schools Slashed in State Budget, But Less Than...

Funding to Toms River Schools Slashed in State Budget, But Less Than First Proposed

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Toms River Regional (TRRS) Board of Education headquarters. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
Toms River Regional (TRRS) Board of Education headquarters. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Toms River school officials say they are in a holding pattern, waiting for guidance from the state Department of Education over how to handle a significant cut in funding to the district that was included as part of the state’s 2017 budget.

In a deal hatched between state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), so-called adjustment aid, which Toms River Regional received from the state under a previous funding formula, was to have been cut by nearly $3.3 million. The final proposal by the state’s Democratic legislature, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Chris Christie, calls for a reduction of $1,366,845 in funding instead of the larger cut. The total amount of aid cut was 2 percent.

Adjustment aid, also known as “hold harmless aid,” is funding to districts that, under the formula, do not have a high enough property tax rate. The funding was meant to bridge the gap between what taxpayers were charged and what the state formula assumed they should be charged. That aid was cut in the Sweeney-Prieto deal, which redistributed the money to other school districts that were deemed to be underfunded. Newark and Elizabeth will both receive $5.1 million in additional funding, and Atlantic City will see $4.2 million more. The budget also called for publicly-funded preschool to be expanded in some districts across the state.

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William Doering, business administrator for the Toms River Regional school district, also said his office was waiting for direction from the state agency on how to proceed.

Toms River Regional Board of Education President Ben Giovine also said officials have reached out to both the state as well as the Ocean County executive superintendent of schools for guidance.

In neighboring Brick, the funding cut was still significant, to the tune of $720,507, but less than the nearly $2.2 million originally proposed.

“At this time we are awaiting word from the [Department of Education] on the exact amount of the cuts,” said interim Brick schools superintendent Dennis Filippone. “Once we have that number we will decide how to address the situation.”

Both the Brick and Toms River districts are ensconced in the same dilemma: the 2017-18 school year budget, as well as the tax rate to go with it, have already been set. The districts may have to adopt new budgets, officials said, and figure out how to account for the cut in funding.

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  • Anna Polozzo

    Where did Dan Leonard’s comment go? The press in this country is dependent on freedom of speech. The comments were factual. There was no valid reason to remove them. Any real news outlet knows there must be room for dissent. Democracy is supposed to be a conversation. We need to encourage people to engage in a respectful informed way. Our district needs bold leaders who are willing and able to able advocate for as well as make sound financial decisions for the kids, staff and taxpayers of the Toms River Regional School District. It is a matter of public record that several sitting BOE members have had financial issues. Two of them have seats that are up for election this year. Silence in and of itself is a response. When we sit back and don’t say a word about the things that we see are wrong we are permitting them to continue. If someone says something you don’t like then you should respectfully disagree, but to just delete the comments invalidates your standing as a reporter and proves that you have no journalistic integrity.