Despite the fact that Gov. Phil Murphy’s new budget proposes a $1 billion increase in school aid, dozens of school districts face drastic cuts in state aid.
Several days after the state released updated school aid figures, many school administrators are still grappling with the losses.
“This is not a fiscal cliff; this is a fiscal apocalypse,” said Michael Citta, superintendent of Toms River Regional Schools.
Property tax cuts in 2023? Not likely if you live in Monmouth County. The State is cutting $20M in state aid next year for your schools. This is what the Democrats in Trenton think about your kids. Get your plan together to VOTE on Nov 7 (or before)! @NJAsmGerry @declanoscanlon pic.twitter.com/I0XD8tpy1C
— Victoria Flynn (@AswVickyFlynn) March 3, 2023
Citta says they anticipated a reduction in state aid, perhaps $2.8 million. Murphy’s formula dictates a $14.4 million, or 32%, reduction.
Initially, Citta believed, “This must be a mistake.” He is still attempting to comprehend it.
“At this time, we are attempting to quantify the irreparable harm these budget cuts will inflict on our beloved school community’s children.”
Toms River is not on its own.
Dozens of school districts are losing at least 25 percent of their total state aid, creating budget gaps that may be insurmountable without a significant increase in property taxes and/or severe cuts to staff and programmes.
— Declan O'Scanlon (@declanoscanlon) March 1, 2023
At least eight districts in Monmouth and Ocean Counties will experience cuts of between 27% and 38% under Murphy’s budget.
Consequently, some state legislators believe it was done on purpose.
Senator James Holzapfel (R-Ocean) stated that the cuts were completely unnecessary.
In reference to the state’s multibillion-dollar budget surplus, Holzapfel stated, “There is absolutely no reason why schools in Ocean County or anywhere else should have their funding reduced.”
Legislators of the Republican Party have asserted that the cuts are politically motivated to punish areas of the state that lean Republican.
While a significant number of Republican districts are losing significant state aid, Democratic districts have also been affected.
For instance, the state is cutting Jersey City’s aid by $51 million. Since the 2016-2017 school year, state education aid to Jersey City has decreased from $418 million to $133 million.
While school officials struggle to comprehend the most recent figures, Murphy has been touring the state using terms such as “fair” to promote his school aid numbers.
Murphy was at Montgomery Upper Middle School in Skillman to boast about a $1 billion increase in total school funding.
Murphy stated, “Investments in education are investments in working families, school communities, and much more.”
However, in some communities, the opposite will be true, according to local school officials.
Citta vowed in Toms River that “no stone will be left unturned as we work to resolve what is quite frankly a monumentally unrealistic reduction,” but he cautioned that staff reductions and programme cuts are probable.