Phil Murphy offers Toms River schools pre-election peace pipe in form of $7.6 million stabilization aid

TOMS RIVER, NJ – With just six days left before the Tuesday general election between New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and his opponent Jack Ciattarelli, the state has thrown the financially besieged school district of Toms River some additional state aid.

After railing against Murphy’s unfair school funding formula, Toms River officials are now singing Murphy’s praise after receiving a one-time $7.6 million pre-election fist bump.

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,” the Toms River School District said in a statement today.

“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.

Toms River School Board President Joe Nardini lavished praise upon the governor who until the election has repeatedly denied funding to the school district, holding money from the district until the right politically opportune time for the governor who is seeking re-election in just six days.

“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.”

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