The following joint press release was issued to media Nov. 19, 2019.
Nov. 19, 2019-- When Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent David Healy spoke to members of the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce about the district’s drastically-reduced state aid resulting from Bill S2, even those who were aware of the ill-advised bill’s impact could hardly believe the real-life ramifications and urgency of the situation.
Now that they know, the chamber’s more than 400 members are ready to actively join the district in its fight.
From the outset, the GTRCC has made clear its opposition to the bill and publicly supported the district’s numerous efforts to convince NJ legislators to restore its state aid and fix a critically-flawed funding formula. But now, it’s even clearer to the owners and operators of local businesses and nonprofits how the decimation of the township’s school system will impact the future of Toms River and Ocean County.
"The Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce stands with Toms River Regional Schools in its fight to restore millions in necessary state aid that was unjustly lost as a result of S2," said GTRCC Chair Ralph Wolff. "And more than just stand, we act. Our network of 400-plus members will make their voices heard on this issue. Our organization is vested in this community, and the negative effects of this bill transcend the classroom. We understand that the future of Toms River and Ocean County is at stake."
Its coalition of members plan to join the district in its blitz to reach legislators, through letters, phone calls, social media … whatever it takes. A template letter was developed for members to personalize and send to Governor Phil Murphy; Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver; Sen. Steve Sweeney (S2’s architect); Assemblyman Craig Coughlin; and NJDOE Commissioner Lamont Repollet. The letter is accompanied by a flyer that summarizes what’s at stake, the context behind S2 including the tenets of the flawed formula on which it’s based, and what residents can do to make their voices heard.
“I’m thrilled but not surprised that the Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce has rallied to support us in this extremely urgent fight,” said Healy. “Toms River is what it is because of the leaders, entrepreneurs, and committed, high-character people who make up this chamber. Many of them are graduates of this district, and many of them have become the invaluable educational partners our students depend on, serving as mentors, sponsors, and role models. They understand exactly how important a well-rounded and thorough education is to the future of Toms River business and Toms River life, and how tragic a future the state has laid out for us all if these cuts remain in place.”
"Our organization is vested in this community, and the negative effects of this bill transcend the classroom. We understand that the future of Toms River and Ocean County is at stake." - Greater Toms River Chamber of Commerce Chair Ralph Wolff
Toms River Patch published a story Nov. 15 that outlines the district’s plight, including the excruciating decisions TRRS leaders will be forced to make regarding athletics, co-curriculars, busing, and staff positions this year. The district eliminated 77 staff and 55 assistant coaching positions heading into the current school year as a direct result of S2-related aid cuts, and is desperate to retain what’s been established over the past six years as one of the best and most efficient school districts in all of New Jersey.
“There is nothing left to cut, and that was the case last year,” said Healy. “Every decision moving forward will be a drastic one.
"We need the state to hear us on this, to understand what’s happening here. They’re decimating our district, based on a formula that’s critically flawed. We will never relent this fight, and we’re proud to have the chamber on our side.”
The more than 100,000 residents of Toms River, South Toms River, Beachwood, and Pine Beach are urged to continue making their voices heard, and to help increase the community awareness of this urgent issue. The flyer released by the district is a useful resource for anyone seeking to influence state decision-makers regarding this bill and its effect on Toms River.