“We’re finished, and that’s not an exaggeration.” Those were the words of a Jackson BOE official speaking to Lakewood Alerts after Governor Phil Murphy released the state’s school funding plan.
A total of $10.75 billion is slated to be spent on state education aid under the Murphy proposal – and increase of about 8.5% from last year – but school districts in Republican areas are seeing their funding significantly chopped. And Jackson might have been hit the worst of them all.
Under the Murphy budget proposal, Jackson Township would receive $27,861,779 in school aid funding for the 2023-2024 school year. That represents a stunning cut of $6,287,744, or 18.4%.
“To say this is cataclysmic would not be an understatement,” the BOE official said. “We knew we had to make cuts, but that was with us projecting that our state funding would be decreased by 2% to 2.5%, not 18%!”
The district, which has already been running a deficit, has been looking for various cost-cutting measures to implement, though most of the cuts proposed until now would have been general administrative and expenditure cuts – nothing that would have significantly altered the school district.
Small cuts are no longer an option.
“We’re going to have to sell off school buildings; we’re going to have to make such painful cuts that I worry families in our district will simply get up and leave. If this budget goes through, we’re finished, and that’s not an exaggeration,” the official said.
Nearby townships are also getting clobbered by the proposed school funding budget. Toms River would see its school aid being chopped by an eye-popping 31.8%; Brick would have its aid cut by 14.8%; Howell would see a drop of 7.8%.
The Lakewood and Manchester school districts are outliers, with Lakewood slated to get an increase of 7.7% and Manchester a raise of 5.3.%
“This is Governor Murphy taking a sledgehammer to every district that didn’t vote for him. It’s nothing but political retribution,” an official fumed.