TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblymen Rob Clifton and Alex Sauickie are slamming Gov. Phil Murphy, his administration and Trenton’s Democrat majority for cutting funding from suburban school districts, which is failing to provide students with transportation and a thorough and efficient education.
“Parents and stakeholders must know who is responsible for the busing cuts that will impact Freehold Regional High School District’s 3,000 students – it’s Gov. Phil Murphy and Trenton Democrats. Their election-year scheme to partially refund schools still cuts more than $2.3 million from Freehold Regional and more than $53.5 million from mostly suburban school districts,” Clifton (R-Monmouth) said. “It’s completely unconscionable for them to literally leave students at the curb while sitting on a huge state budget surplus and touting historic education funding.”
The Freehold Regional High School District announced it is eliminating busing for students living within a 2.5-mile range of its six schools starting in fall because of state aid losses. The district is suffering one of the largest year-over-year cuts in the state. Approximately a third of the students served by the district will lose busing, including students from Manalapan and Englishtown.
“I testified before the Assembly Budget Committee to paint a clearer picture of the fiscal cliff our schools are facing and fight for a full restoration of funding, but unfortunately it fell on deaf ears,” Sauickie (R-Ocean) said. “State aid cuts are bad enough, but those numbers don’t even account for increasing costs due to inflation and state-mandated transportation, or the loss of Covid funds.”
During this year’s budget hearings, the state education commissioner admitted her department returned $3.6 million in unspent federal coronavirus relief aid to the federal government when it could and should have gone to hundreds of the state’s school districts. Additionally, school districts are legally required to fund the transportation needs of private school students if its public school students receive busing.
Freehold Regional’s adopted operating budget includes 19 job cuts on top of the busing cuts. School officials warn that the situation will only get worse unless the school funding formula is fixed.
“Students and schools should not pay the price for this administration’s mismanagement and flawed policies,” Clifton and Sauickie said. “We will continue to rally for full school funding so that essential services like busing is preserved, learning loss is remedied and every child receives a thorough and efficient education as required by our constitution.”