TOMS RIVER-Decades of neglect throughout the Toms River Regional School District’s aging facilities is starting to show and the Board of Education is preparing to put a massive spending bill before township voters in January to fix the problems.
Photos released by the district show years of neglect, including leaking windows, broken tiles, poor pavement, broken sidewalks and curbs, mold, mildew, leaking ceilings, broken bathroom sinks and much more show how bad things are getting in one of the state’s largest school districts.
Now, after years of ignoring the problems within the district, the board is seeking $100 million from taxpayers to fix their past mistakes. The board, in recent years has been controlled by the New Jersey Democrat Party, who took office in the wake of the Michael Ritacco scandal, led by former school board member Ben Giovine and political consultant, Mitch Seim, a former Lakewood County Democrat Committeemen who Democrats hire to run political campaigns each year in the towns surrounding Lakewood. They called their platform, “The Clean Slate”, but since taking power in the district, the slate has been anything but clean.
Under the political control of Giovine and Seim, two longtime Democrat political operatives, the district’s buildings have fallen on hard times, much like many Democrat controlled communities across the nation.
According to a report by the school district after a comprehensive inspection, some buildings are literally crumbling.
Despite being a district managed by a Democrat majority, Governor Phil Murphy’s 2018 state budget cut millions of dollars from the district’s state aid compensation. Over the next 7 years, the district is expected to lose about $2 million in state aid each year under the state’s new school funding formula. That formula sends tax dollars from towns like Toms River to “less fortunate” school districts in urban areas of New Jersey.
The successful political takeover of the Toms River School Board by the Democrat party proved only one thing, politics have no place in education. The takeover began in 2011 and was complete by 2012 after Democrats seized upon an opportunity to take power in the wake of the Michael Ritacco corruption scandal. Now, according to district statements regarding the referendum, things are falling apart.
On January 22nd, the school district is hoping residents will come out to vote to support the $100 million price tag. Originally, the board was asking for $153 million, but now it is looking like the referendum will ask for $100 million over twenty-five years, which includes a $17 million boiler room replacement at High School South.
Other projects bundled into the referendum include parking lot paving, installation of HVAC systems, ADA compliance, replacing doors and windows, improving school labs and elementary school playgrounds.
The school board will be hosting three regional public meetings have been scheduled in advance of the Jan. 22 vote.
- Jan. 3, 2019: East Side Regional meeting at High School East auditorium, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
- Jan. 7, 2019: North Side Regional meeting at High School North auditorium, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
- Jan. 8, 2019: South Side Regional meeting at High School South auditorium, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
These meetings are open to the public, which should be asking, “How did we get here?” before giving this school board a blank check to fix their past mistakes.
Below is a series of photos showing the neglect and decay around the district.