October 28, 2021-- The New Jersey Department of Education and the Office of Governor Phil Murphy informed Toms River Regional Schools today that it has approved the district’s application for stabilization aid in the amount of $7.6 million. The news arrives at an ideal time for the district, and four years into its ongoing and arduous battle to restore the funding it has lost and will continue to lose as a result of State Bill S2.
“Toms River Regional Schools is relieved and extremely grateful for Governor Murphy’s announcement today that our requested $7.6 million in stabilization aid will be provided,” said Superintendent Stephen Genco. “On behalf of our students and staff, I thank our board members and community supporters who spent time and effort behind the scenes to fight for our district and for Toms River; our team here who thoroughly and successfully developed our comprehensive application for stabilization aid; and of course Governor Murphy, who has heard our collective voice and who has responded. This is indeed wonderful and welcome news.”
Among the team members to whom Genco refers is Business Administrator William Doering, who led the development of the district’s application for stabilization aid, and who has been at the forefront of the district’s broader fiscal fight, as well as a key member of the statewide SOS coalition of S2-affected NJ school districts.
“We’re undoubtedly most appreciative of this funding,” said Doering. “It will help immensely in terms of addressing our current fiscal situation as the state continues to review the school aid formula and we work toward having a formula that provides adequate and sustained funding for all school districts.”
The approved aid will help TRRS develop its 2022-2023 budget, and will assuredly save staff positions; the district was forced to eliminate 40 positions entering this year, which could have been many more were it not for pandemic-relief funding. In total, the district applied for $7,641,573 in its application to the NJDOE, which was approved via a resolution at the Sept. 15 board meeting.
In addition to its approval of the application’s submission, the board played an active and integral role in helping to secure the stabilization aid. Jennifer Howe, who serves on the budget and finance committee, worked alongside her board colleagues, Toms River Council member Terrance Turnbach, and other community stakeholders to communicate the district’s plight to state leaders in Trenton, and to provide first-hand testimony about how critical the funding is for the district and the greater Toms River community.
“A lot of hard work from a lot of dedicated people who truly care about this district helped make this happen,” said Toms River School Board President Joseph Nardini. “Now we can move forward, albeit temporarily, with some fiscal certainty and peace of mind, and for that I thank Governor Murphy.”
“This is,” Nardini added, “the first piece of good news we’ve received since we started this funding fight years ago. But it’s a biggie.”