Toms River Regional school officials are hoping for the best, but preparing for a financial worst-case scenario in the proposed 2018-19 spending plan that has been submitted to the county superintendent for approval.
Though Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed state budget includes an increase of $1.2 million in funding for the regional school district, officials say they are hearing conflicting state aid numbers from the Department of Education, and fear political wrangling could create a gap. Last year, the district was able to fend off a $3.3 million cut that was part of a deal hatched between former Gov. Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney.
“I do believe we’re still under the 2 percent cap, and I want to make sure everyone knows it’s a tentative budget,” said Board President Russel Corby. “It is so tentative at this point.”
The proposed $243,059,847 spending plan, inclusive of the district’s debt service payments, would be supported by a tax levy of $161,316,744. The tax levy for the current school year is $157,529,467. Last year’s total operating budget, including debt service, was $241,428,029.
The school board will hold a public hearing on the budget April 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Toms River High School North. Barring any significant developments at the state level, the board has until May 20 to formally adopt the budget.