Toms River School District works to finalize next year’s budget amid $26.5 million shortfall

Toms River’s issues began with the 2018 law known as S2, specifically, how much state aid each school district will receive.

Jim Murdoch

May 10, 2024, 9:30 PM

Updated 10 days ago

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The Toms River Regional School District is trying to finalize its budget for next year. But as it stands right now, there is a massive gap to the tune of $26.5 million and time is running out.
"Over seven years, we’ve accumulated a loss of over $137 million. We’ve lost $46-47 million in aid," said Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent Michael Citta.
In the coming days and weeks, a $26.5 million gaping hole in Toms River’s budget will have to be filled.
"We would be able to open our buildings and our parents would see what they see now - overcrowded classrooms. They see limited stretches on our resources. But our budget would only take us to April and then there would be no more funds to continue to have our doors open if nothing changed right now," said Citta.
Toms River’s issues began with the 2018 law known as S2, specifically, how much state aid each school district will receive. Under now-retired Superintendent David Healy, a rally at the New Jersey State House in 2019 drew attention to the issues, which continue in 2024.
"The cuts have been 240 staff members plus in our district but that doesn’t tell the whole entire story. We've lost programming, downsized bus routes, added extra tiers. We’ve done everything that we can to maintain student programming at a minimum of what we consider thorough and efficient education," Citta added.
Seaside Heights rejected a merger with the Toms River district last month which would have financially benefited them, but despite that setback and current budget gap, Citta says he’s optimistic about ongoing discussions.
"We have a school year that will start in September and we will have a school year. I do believe there is a solution between A and Z," he said.
The deadline to submit next year’s school budget is next week on May 15, however that could be extended. Citta also says talks remain open and ongoing all the way to the highest legislative offices in the state.


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