Students, Staff Take Action to ‘Save Our Schools’
On Tuesday Governor Murphy delivered his 2019 budget address to the state legislature in Trenton while outside thousands of teachers, students and other officials marched to show their opposition to changes in school funding which will negatively impact many districts for years.
Heading up the 71 “Support our Students” districts were Toms River and Brick who will continue to lose millions of dollars and face very bleak financial futures.
I won’t pretend to know specifics but it’s not a scare tactic when the Board of Education and superintendents office talk about the kind of cuts being considered. Dozens and dozens of teacher and staff reductions, elimination of student resources and non-mandated programs and the slashing of athletics that will leave many students out in the cold.
On top of this could be an increase in class sizes that will make teaching and learning an even greater challenge than it currently is.
On the surface Murphy’s budget seems like a winner for public education with more than $200 million in new direct aid to K-12 schools in New Jersey plus an additional $250 million for special education, expanded pre-school and construction. However the new S2 funding formula moves money from some districts to others in New Jersey and Toms River and Brick are two of the biggest losers under this plan which was championed by Senate President Steve Sweeney and has been embraced by Governor Murphy.
Toms River Schools Superintendent David Healy said in Trenton yesterday his school district is looking at a loss of over $80 million in state aid over six years which is simply devastating. What makes this worse is that Toms River for years has operated well below the state average in per pupil cost and seems to getting penalized for its financial efficiency.
Meanwhile Brick is looking at a $23 million loss over the next six years and like Toms River this will result in teacher and staff cuts, elimination of all non-mandated programs and increased class sizes. Brick also has operated in a cost-efficient manner that in truth should be praised.
Both school districts share something else in common: a loss of ratables from Superstorm Sandy which continues to financially impact their towns and communities.
The whole thing stinks which is nothing new in what comes out of Trenton.