May 3, 2019-- In a letter to Governor Phil Murphy, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer came to the defense of Toms River Regional Schools in its fight to restore millions in lost state aid as a result of Bill S2.
Billhimer offered his own perspective on what the state aid cuts will mean, particularly when it comes to reductions in after-school activities.
"From a law enforcement perspective, the elimination of extra-curricular activities and athletic programs are of particular concern," Billhimer wrote. "Approximately 13,000 students in Toms River Schools participate in extra-curricular activities and/or athletic programs. For these students, their day does not end in the early afternoon. The research is very clear that after school hours tend to be the most generative time for juvenile delinquency and problem behaviors."
The research is indeed extensive on how after-school opportunities influence positive behaviors, and how the lack thereof leads to negative outcomes.
Billhimer also expressed concern about how the state aid cuts, and the reductions to services they will impose on TRRS, will impact the already alarming rate of opioid use in Toms River and Ocean County.
"We are, collectively, ground zero for the opioid epidemic in New Jersey," he wrote. "Regrettably, we rank highest in the rates of addiction, overdoses and Narcan deployments statewide. More adolescents with less to do during their after-school hours will undermine our most diligent efforts to halt this trend. This is a grave concern."
The full content of Billhimer's letter, which has received extensive news coverage locally, can be read on the websites of WOBM, Toms River Patch, and Jersey Shore Online.