Toms River school officials blast state budget plan

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TOMS RIVER -

Officials at an Ocean County school district say that they are opposed to the state’s new education budget plan, and they want lawmakers to reconsider.

The Toms River School District is facing a $3.3 million budget cut under the deal, which was brokered by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. The plan calls for the redistribution of money to help fast-growing districts. It would reallocate $46 million from districts that have been receiving more than their fair share.

But Toms River Superintendent David Healy says that Toms River, like hundreds of other districts, is chronically underfunded. Healy says that if the new plan is adopted, it could mean layoffs, bigger classes and pay-to-play athletics.

“The ramifications of this decision will be catastrophic to this community for this year and the years to come,” Healy says.

But while some districts will lose money, others like schools in Bergen and Passaic counties, will gain money.

“It certainly provides some relief, absolutely,” says Ridgewood Park Superintendent Eric Koenig.

The Ridgefield Park School District stands to gain $1.1 million under the funding plan. Koenig says that this could reverse some of the budget cuts they’ve had to make.

“It’s a step in the right direction. I wouldn’t say it’s the overall answer,” he says.

All 16 Republican state senators have signed a letter to Gov. Chris Christie asking him not to agree to the school funding proposal. They say that it favors Democratic districts.

Democrats say that if they don't get an agreement, they may shut down the government.

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