Ocean County legislators say Murphy’s school funding, tax formula unfair to shore towns

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy - Photo 130146694 © Laurence Agron | Dreamstime.com

TRENTON, NJ – The Jersey Shore communities have long argued Governor Phil Murphy’s school funding formula unfairly penalizes school districts in counties like Ocean County. The argument is that Ocean County taxpayers receive less state aid in relation to other communities across New Jersey.

Once again, legislators in Ocean County are saying the governor’s latest budget means more cuts for local school districts.

New Jersey Senator James Holzapfel said schools in the 10th legislative district are already facing staffing shortages from previous budget cuts.

“Governor Murphy’s proposal allocates nearly half the state aid to 11 cities, while slashing $185 million in aid to nearly 200 suburban districts, including two of the largest in my district,” Holzapfel (R-Ocean) said. “That’s unconscionable when we are not only facing a school staffing shortage, but trying to give our students some sense of normalcy coming out of Murphy’s masking and lockdown orders.”

“The governor, joined by Acting Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan, announced his $19.2 billion school aid package at the James Monroe Elementary School in Edison today, which will help fund climate change indoctrination and preschool expansion. Edison schools saw an increase of $11.8 million in its state aid,” according to NJ Senate Republicans staffer Jennifer Peacock who issued a press release on the topic today.

Holzapfel claims the last three budget cycles, more than $32 million in state aid to Brick and Toms River has been cut.

Holzapfel also said the 12 schools and 8,500 students in Brick Township public schools will have their state aid slashed $4.7 million, down to $17.2 million. The total district budget last year was $160 million.The Toms River Regional School District—comprising 18 schools that serve about 15,000 students, the largest suburban school district in the state—will have its state aid slashed by $4.3 million, down to $45.4 million. The total district budget last year was $247 million.

“The governor said he is committed to providing all New Jersey students a world-class education. He needs some schooling on what ‘all’ means, because his proposal hurts our students,” McGuckin (R-Ocean) said in a press release today. “The argument has been, districts like Brick and Toms River were overfunded for years. Is it fair and equitable that our schools and other suburban districts have to cut staff and programs, and increase classroom sizes, which negatively impacts student outcomes?”

Related: Greg McGuckin stops Toms River Council Campaign Over Unpaid IRS Liens…Again

“It’s no wonder this administration wants to keep their formula a secret. This funding formula creates a situation of haves and have-nots in our public schools,” Catalano (R-Ocean) said in a press release today. “We have two more years of aid cuts under S2, which districts like Brick and Toms River simply cannot endure. The governor must work with the legislature to ensure all schools have more-than-adequate funding.”

Phil Murphy doesn’t see it that way.

“We’ve been able to better support our public schools. We’ve been able to meet our full annual pension obligation. We’ve boosted and created programs that support the dreams of the middle class. And — because facts matter — New Jersey has more millionaires today than ever before,” Murphy said. “We were told we’d never be able to properly and fully fund our school funding formula. Standing here today, together we have invested more in our public schools than at any other point in our state’s history — and we’re on the path to fully funding our obligation to our kids and their parents, our educators, and our property taxpayers.”