Freehold Regional High School District cuts bus routes, ending service to thousands of students

To make up for lost money from state cuts, the district will drop busing to students living within 2.5 miles of their high school.

Lanette Espy and Jim Murdoch

May 2, 2023, 10:57 AM

Updated 438 days ago


Some parents in the Freehold Regional High School District will have to find other ways to get their children to school.
Buses will not pick up students who live within 2.5 miles of the six high schools in the district. The new school bus schedule is set to go in effect in 2024.
The courtesy bus service is getting dropped due to state funding. Superintendent Dr. Charles Sampson says Senate Bill S2 is to blame. The passing of the bill in 2018 changed the way public schools were funded. Many districts have complained about the lack of transparency coming from the state and the formulas used in deciding exactly who gets what.
“The busing is the end of a string of cuts. We have cut 132 staff positions here. We have eliminated more than 15% of the administration. Our administrative costs are 25% below the state average. We have cut and cut and cut,” Sampson said.
The Freehold Regional High School district will see cuts of around $6 million - more than the $2 million anticipated. To make up for that lost money, the district will drop the courtesy bus service. Around 10,000 students attend district high schools in Howell, Manalapan, Colts Neck, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township and Marlboro. The bus route cuts will affect a third of the students.
Courtesy bus service is not required by state law and will save the district several million dollars for the upcoming year. Sampson says unless changes are made now to the way state aid is distributed, this is only the beginning as the districts face a $10 million cut in two years.
The district posted a lengthy Q&A on its website that read in part: "The elimination of courtesy busing aligns with State law. New Jersey mandates that transportation be provided for high school students who reside over 2.5 miles from their school of attendance. The law does not require the consideration of hazardous routes in determining eligibility vs. non-eligibility for transportation."
The final state budget will be passed in June.
“In a year where there are literally billions of dollars and unspent federal funds surplus, it would amount to a cup of coffee to save districts like ours from this fiscal cliff. We have taxed to the max, we are taxed at 2%, we've gone to the cap for a decade here,” Sampson said.
Sampson says he's hopeful other districts facing similar cuts will continue to put pressure on lawmakers and the education department in Trenton to see changes made to Senate Bill S2 and avoid potentially more drastic cuts in the years to come.

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