Ocean County Commissioners Blast Murphy School Cuts

With some Ocean County public school districts facing up to a 32 percent cut in state aid, Director of the Ocean Board of Commissioners Joseph H. Vicari said it’s time for Gov. Phil Murphy and the state Legislature to “do their job” and ease the burden on local taxpayers.

“The Ocean County Board of Commissioners introduced a budget with a 2-cent tax rate cut. Likewise, the Ocean County Library tax is down. We’re doing our jobs. Now it’s time for state leaders to do theirs,” Vicari said.

The Toms River Regional School District is confronting one of the state’s largest cuts, with $14.4 million slashed from the district’s aid, or about a 32 percent reduction from last year.

“Governor Murphy is touting the state’s $10 billion budget surplus while at the same time cutting aid to Ocean County schools and increasing the burden on our residents, who are still suffering through record-level inflation,” Vicari said.

Other local districts facing major state-aid cuts include Jackson, Brick, Lacey and Stafford.
Meanwhile, state aid is up across the board for the cities and Northern New Jersey urban counties.

“We have seen this time and again,” Vicari said. “Ocean County families are burdened with higher school taxes while nearly all of the state aid increases go to the cities.”

Vicari echoed 10th District Senator James Holzapfel, who argued that the state is “flush with cash” and should not be tampering with state aid.

“First our families are hit by the financial repercussions of the pandemic and now the cost of everything from food to fuel to medicine is going through the roof,” Vicari said. “State government should be easing this burden but instead Trenton is just making it worse.”

Vicari called on state leaders to re-evaluate the formula used to calculate aid so this issue can be avoided in the future.

When state school aid is cut the loss of revenue is either passed on to local taxpayers in the form of higher tax bills or districts are forced to cut programs and staff. Usually the loss of funding is mitigated by a combination of the two.

“Our students already lost irreplaceable classroom time due to COVID-19 and now these cuts threaten to impact their education even further,” said Vicari, a former teacher, principal and schools superintendent. “How much more will our students be forced to endure?”

 

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