The fight for fairness, funding and transparency continues and enters a new phase as 10th District (Ocean County) Lawmakers have developed a plan to protect Jersey Shore school districts being cut state aid.

Ocean County State Senator Jim Holzapfel and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin and John Catalano have drafted legislation that would shield school districts that are spending below adequacy levels from additional reductions in State school aid.

“The urgent need for this measure is magnified by devastating aid numbers released by the Department of Education,” Holzapfel said. “While the State budget is expanding by 5 percent to $40.85 billion, taxpayers in our Shore towns are being told they have to pick up the slack for more than 8 percent in funding cuts. Our legislation offers an antidote to this unfair treatment under the school funding formula.”

The 10th District legislators are introducing the bill in Trenton today.

“Schools can only do so much with limited resources,” Assemblyman McGuckin said. “The harsh funding cuts released last week will no doubt have a negative impact on our children’s education and their futures. With sufficient funding, we can empower the next generation and properly educate New Jersey’s future leaders.”

Brick and Toms River Regional Schools, which are in District 10, were hit pretty hard by the new numbers.

Funding for Toms River has been cut by $5.3 million (8.4 percent) while Brick took a $4.2 million (13.3 percent) hit.

Both districts would qualify for the protections offered by the new legislation.

“Schools in our district are constantly facing funding crises,” Assemblyman Catalano said. “Cutting essential education aid for grade and high schools will cause teachers to struggle and students to suffer. The State should assist and increase funds for quality public education. Until then, our legislation can provide some relief for Shore community homeowners.”

While Governor Murphy and the Department of Education initially used 2018 tax rate data to put together this year's school aid numbers, Commissioner Repollet on Wednesday said they are now revising the numbers to reflect the 2019 tax rate data but the only district in the state it does anything for is Pemberton.

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