Seaside Heights residents reject plan to merge with Toms River Regional School District

The Seaside Heights community rejected the plan to merge the district with Toms River by a mere 64 votes.

Jim Murdoch

Apr 17, 2024, 10:07 PM

Updated 38 days ago


A lot of eyes were on a special vote Tuesday night where the residents in Toms River and Seaside Heights decided whether to merge school districts.
Parents and students at the Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School in Seaside Heights rejoiced after a planned merger with Toms River Regional School District failed to get the votes to move forward.
Voters in Seaside Heights rejected the plan to merge the district with Toms River by a mere 64 votes, despite an overwhelming majority of voters in Toms River voting in favor of the merger. Both towns needed a majority yes vote to pass the ordinance.
"I am very happy because right now I can sleep because before I was so worried about my son," said Maria Elena, a mother of four children who either graduated from or now attends Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School.
Reaction from the other side of Barnegat Bay - disappointment. In a statement to News 12, Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent Michael Citta wrote, "First and foremost, I’m extremely proud of our Toms River Regional Schools family, and I am humbled and grateful for their support. I am just disappointed that the kids in Seaside are not going to have the benefit of a Toms River Regional education. Certainly we did our job educating our community, and that showed up in the polls. They listened to us, they heard us and they supported us. That will keep me moving forward to find solutions, which is what we will continue to do."
Seaside Councilman Vito Ferrone told News 12 in December that a merger would save taxpayers around $9 million in 10 years if the district left Central Regional and merged with Toms River.
Parents like Elena rejected those stats and said they did what was best for their children.
"I want the school to stay forever because we need this school. I’ve lived here for 32 years," she said.
"I think that the school is very, very special to him and special to me too," said Michael Castro, a graduate of Hugh J. Boyd Elementary School.
After the merger failed, things will stay the same. Once students graduate from the elementary school they will continue their studies at the Central Regional School District.

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