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We are One Jackson: Township Steps in to Help the School District Avoid Devastating Cuts to Programs and Services

Jackson Township Press Release

March 27, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Township Contact: Terence Wall, Business Administrator 732-928-1200 ext. 1310 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are One Jackson: Township Steps in to Help the School District

Avoid Devastating Cuts to Programs and Services

JACKSON - The Township Council voted March 24 to utilize $1 million in surplus funds to help the Jackson School District avoid some of the devastating cuts to programs and services due to the continuing impact of state aid cuts from the School Funding Law known as S2.

“Since Governor Murphy took office, most of the local school district budgets have been under constant assault. It baffles me how he can strip our school districts of such needed funding, leaving the community to figure out how to either make up the difference or live within our district’s shameful new budget, but then offer free college tuition at the same time,’’ said Jackson Mayor Michael Reina. “Where does his commitment to serving the needs of all K-12 New Jersey school children lie exactly?”

“The funding losses being experienced by the district are atrocious and the programs and services that were on the chopping block would have been devastating. There’s a state law that allows us to help the district offset some of these losses, and we followed it to do what we could to help,’’ said Reina. “Through sound financial responsibility in Jackson, we are in a position to help our school district continue to provide the needed programs. During times like this we are not the Township and the District, we are one Jackson.”

Due to the drastic, insensitive cuts made by Governor Phil Murphy and the Democratic legislature, the Jackson School District has lost $3.6 million in school aid over the past two years. For this coming budget year, the district is looking at another $3.5 million loss. Over the full seven years of implementation, the district stands to lose more than $18 million in deserved state aid.

As a result of this enormous funding loss, the district’s Tentative Budget included the following losses: class sizes that would explode in every school; greatly diminished staffing for interventionists, who serve educationally at-risk students; ending all before- and after-school enrichment programs; and eliminating all freshmen sports.

“After having made so many other reductions and cuts, those losses would have forever altered the course of our instruction for next year, and years to come,’’ said Superintendent of Schools Stephen Genco. “We are so grateful to the Township for stepping in and helping ensure that Jackson students do not lose these vital supports, programs and opportunities.”

Even with this township support, the district’s Tentative Budget will still feature reductions in positions, including in the area of administration, across-the-board reductions in all budget areas and the elimination of all capital improvement projects other than those included in an Energy Savings Improvement Program (ESIP) that will provide energy savings.

The transfer of the funds to the district is allowed under a provision in State Statute 40: 48-17.1, which allows a municipality that has some surplus revenue to apply that revenue for school purposes. The statute states:

“...the governing body may, in its discretion, by resolution adopted at a regular or special meeting thereof, authorize the transfer of and cause to be transferred all or any such part of unappropriated surplus revenue or unappropriated anticipated receipts as the governing body shall deem advisable to the board of education of the school district of the municipality;”

The Township Council voted unanimously at its March 24 meeting to approve the transfer of the funds.

“As a community, we take pride in the quality education provided in our town, and the positive impact that reputation has on property values in Jackson,’’ Council President Barry Calogero said. “Now, perhaps more than ever, we are mindful of how important it is for a community to come together for the betterment of the families we serve. We are proud to make a significant investment in our children, our future.”

The district’s Tentative Budget, which was approved March 18 will be modified prior to the Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget April 29 to restore the items preserved by the township’s assistance. All school district budget documents and information are available on the district website at www.jacksonsd.org.

“We are incredibly fortunate to share a collaborative, respectful relationship with our township officials,’’ Genco said. “We are proud of our shared services and also our shared philosophy that all decisions must be made with all taxpayers and all stakeholders in mind.”

Genco said the district will continue to battle for changes to this school funding formula, which he said is categorically unfair to Jackson given the district’s level of efficiency and responsible spending. He said the district is part of the SOS or Save our Schools coalition and is also involved in a lawsuit to try to force a change in this law. Among the district’s arguments are:

● The district spends below the state average and is efficient and responsible with the monies entrusted to us by the taxpayers of Jackson. It is not "overfunded."

● The district wants the state to freeze the implementation of this school funding law so that the true impact to districts like Jackson can be understood and corrected.

● The district wants a task force to address the flaws of the school funding formula, so it can be applied fairly to all.

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About Jackson Township

During 1994, we celebrated the 150th year of Jackson's existence as an incorporated municipality in the State of New Jersey. As the handwritten Legislative Act reads, "Having been three times read in the Council (the State Senate) on February 29, 1844,"

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