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In reaction to the news that Freehold Regional High School District will need to limit busing routes for the families it serves from multiple Monmouth County towns, State Leaders from Legislative District 13 call upon the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to take immediate steps to restore school state aid cuts as a means to fund bus transportation for next school year.
Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth), Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn (R-Monmouth) and Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger (R-Monmouth) have been staunch advocates for the full restoration of State funding to all schools in Monmouth County since the introduction of the Governor’s FY24 Budget. There is $8 billion in surplus in the State’s coffers; yet, the Department of Education slashed $20 million from Monmouth County schools. While the Legislature has taken action to reverse that decision by returning 65% of that aid, there are schools that will still be left without sufficient funding to address essential services like busing.
We’re talking about an estimated $55 million taken from that $8 billion to fully fund these school districts, which is not an impossible ask especially considering that the Governor has appropriated already $45 million for his “electric school bus” pilot program. The focus should be on transporting children safely now and not funding some future project.
The Acting Commissioner of Education places the blame for these funding cuts upon the State Legislature; however, both Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblyman Scharfenberger pressed the Acting Commissioner during the Senate and Assembly budget hearings to increase school funding within the Governor’s budget. The Acting Commissioner was steadfast in her position that this was not possible, despite being advised otherwise by the budget committees.
Students and families of Monmouth County should not be casualties of poor fiscal management and the lack of understanding of the budgeting process. Senator O’Scanlon, Assemblywoman Flynn and Assemblyman Scharfenberger call upon the Governor to restore all state aid cuts in his budget so that students of Monmouth County may be safely transported to school each day and to ensure that they do not suffer the consequences of a broken school funding formula.
The Legislators remain committed to working with the Governor as well as leadership in the Senate and the Assembly to devise a more fair and equitable funding formula, especially in this post-pandemic world, so that the needs of students are kept first and foremost in these budgetary decisions.