Jackson Township school in danger of closing due to $18M budget shortfall

Officials say that 70 jobs could be lost, and several programs cut unless the state steps in.

Tom Krosnowski

Jun 26, 2024, 9:56 PM

Updated 23 days ago

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Just days after the end of the school year, it was announced that Jackson Township’s Sylvia Rosenauer Elementary School will likely not reopen next year.
State monitors say closing and selling the 60-year-old school as part of a sweeping round of cuts is the only way the district can balance its budget.
The school board rejected that proposal, leaving the final decision to the state Department of Education. A state monitor said they have no choice but to overturn the vote.
School Superintendent Nicole Pormilli says the $18 million budget shortfall isn’t from overspending - rather, years of state cuts from Gov. Phil Murphy’s “S2” funding formula.
“Jackson has been cut every year for seven years of this formula,” Pormilli said. “We have been in the top 10 of the highest amount of cuts.”
Crossing guard Angela Beagan has helped more than 1,000 kids cross to the Rosenauer School in the last 24 years. The shocking anticipated closure and sale of the school means she may not retire at her favorite corner.
“We were out [of school] on June 18, and we found out [about the closure] on June 20,” Beagan said. “We may not see some of these kids again. The first day of school is always the happiest for me. I hate summers off because I don't get to see my kids. This school means the world to me.”
The budget favored by the state will slash 70 positions. The district has lost nearly 300 in the last 10 years. It will also reduce after-school programs, late and local buses and some high school sports.
“These are things that keep the children engaged,” said board president Giuseppe Palmieri. “It keeps them off the streets, it keeps them in the schools, it keeps them learning. Some of this is all that these children have.”
Officials say dropping local “courtesy bus” routes would force kids to walk dangerous roads to school.
“Drive the roads of Jackson,” Pormilli said. “We're continually told that we shouldn't have courtesy busing. It's not a requirement, but it's a safety concern in this town.”
“They cannot walk on some of these streets by themselves,” Beagan said.
Parents and staff say this forced scenario is devastating their kids.
“[My daughter] loves school because of [Rosenauer],” said parent Linda Keller.
“I have not told [my son],” parent Allison Scher said. “The first question he's going to ask is, ‘Where am I going?’ And, the district has not given any information on that.”
“The reason why we moved here is because of the wonderful school system,” said parent Ed Keller. “If you take that away, you're losing all the people that live here. You're going to see sale signs going up and people are just going to leave in droves.”
The average homeowner would also pay $150 more in taxes to help climb out of this fiscal cliff.
The next steps are in the hands of Ocean County before another public hearing and board vote in July.


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