Toms River Student, Celebrity Alumni among those pushing for change
It's Toms River vs. Trenton, it's the Toms River School District vs. Trenton and it's the Toms River community vs. Trenton, not the state capital but the lawmakers whose decision to cut state aid from several school districts throughout the state including Toms River has residents, students and teachers alike fighting for what was taken from them...state aid.
There are dozens of districts forced to scale back on spending and come up with new budget plans after the state of New Jersey took a Robin Hood approach by taking funds from districts doing well or hanging in there and giving it to underfunded schools.
Toms River Regional Schools said that if they have to make cuts there will be 300 additional staff members will be laid off, sports programs as well as band, theater and other extra curricular activities will be cut before next school year (2020-21), there will be no more kindergarten and the class sizes will go up while the faculty members will decrease.
Toms River Schools has requested $4.4-million in emergency aid and are still awaiting an answer from Governor Murphy.
Parent organizations are assembling a caravan to the state capital with TR Schools next Tuesday and both are encouraging the residents and families of Toms River to join them on site or to raise their voices and share in the unity of fighting for funding.
Toms River Superintendent David Healy and Business Administrator Bill Doering spoke to WOBM News last week detailing how the S2 Legislation has handcuffed their finances and is forcing them to make hard decisions.
Students are facing the harsh reality that the things they love to do after school may no longer be there.
Samantha Impens, a freshmen student at Toms River High School East, spoke to WOBM News on Sunday evening amid her concern for what the school funding formula is doing to the district thousands are attending and working in.
"The school funding formula is effecting me and the student body by taking away the chances for a meaningful time in school," Impens said. "Without the opportunity to be involved in school activities, most students will lose the most meaningful part of their school days."
Impens herself is involved in extra curricular activities currently and the upcoming lacrosse season in the spring may be her first and last at Toms River High School East due to the possible cutbacks by the school district.
"I am involved in a couple different clubs ( DART, History and Peer Leadership) and I’m hoping to be on the girls lacrosse team in the spring. I am very worried about these activities being cut because I am only a freshmen and I can’t imagine going through high school without a sport or club to get involved in. I haven’t had the opportunity to play on a high school team and with these budget cuts, I probably will never," Impens said.
She shares the goal of many heading to the statehouse on Tuesday.
"I’m sure what i want to accomplish is the same as the rest of the 1500 students and faculty going: get Governor Murphy to understand the impact and severity of the budget cuts being made," Impens said.
A Toms River High School North Alumni (1994) and Hollywood Actress Piper Perabo sent out a series of tweets over the weekend including one that confirms her plans to join the Toms River Schools community at the statehouse on Tuesday morning in Trenton.
Perabo in another tweet stressed the importance of the items that could be cut.
"This is devastating. Kids need kindergarten, sports, after school clubs to have time with peers, have team challenges and victories, learn leadership."
Toms River Township Mayor Tom Kelaher released a statement of his own encouraging others to join the community in Trenton on Tuesday morning.
“As the Mayor of Toms River, I wholeheartedly support the community effort to petition Governor Murphy and the State Legislature to reinstate the funding that was arbitrarily taken away from the Toms River Regional School District,” Mayor Kelaher said.
“This illogical action has had a devastating effect on our entire township and is causing the deterioration of the quality of our education in Toms River. I urge everyone in Toms River and beyond to continue to support this effort with the rally at the State House on Tuesday, December 10th as we fight to restore the funding that our children and school system rightfully deserve,” Mayor Kelaher said.
“The reduction in state aid to Toms River will have a devastating effect on our schools and our children and grandchildren’s education," Mayor Elect Maurice "Mo" Hill said. "The impact of the proposed cuts to extracurricular activities such as sports, music, drama and the arts programs as well as after school clubs will negatively impact the quality of the education our students will receive."
“Education is more than just classroom studies," Hill said. "The extracurricular activities enhance the educational experience and the overall growth and development of the student’s individual talents and gifts."
“We all have a vested interest in the success of our students and our school system. I fully support our town’s efforts to restore adequate funding to our schools and encourage all of our residents to continue to pursue the restoration of our school aid," Hill said.
Mayor-Elect Hill will be attending tomorrow’s rally in Trenton.
Here is Toms River Regional School District Superintendent David Healy and Business Administrator Bill Doering speaking to WOBM News about the S2 legislation and upcoming rally on Tuesday: