TOMS RIVER-Ten years after the arrest of former Superintendent of Schools, the Toms River Regional School District is falling apart. Tomorrow, the district is asking taxpayers to approve a $165,000,000 referendum to fix the damages caused in the ten years since. In that time, the New Jersey Democrat Party seized control of the district from the prior Republican administrations, claiming a “Clean Slate” for the future of the township.
The Clean Slate was led by New Jersey Democrat political operatives Mitch Seim, a former Lakewood Township Democrat Committeeman and Ben Giovine, the former school board president and recently appointed county director for Democrat Congressman Andy Kim. The district, once the spotlight of success in New Jersey has fallen on bad times in the years during the Clean Slate Team’s reign of power.
In that time, the Clean Slate team allowed the district to fall into disrepair while pushing tens of millions of dollars into professional contracts of their campaign donors, companies like Maser Consulting and Fairview Insurance. Awarding multi-million dollar professional contracts took precedence over the well-being of the students and faculty during that time. Political control trumped educational needs.
Today, TREA President Scott Campbell said the district is a very bad financial situation.
“Toms River Regional Schools is experiencing some very difficult financial times,” he said. “Anyone that has worked in any of our schools knows that all of our buildings are in serious need of repair. I know that in my class at TR South a heavy rain would bring down the same ceiling tile. The repair was to replace the tile, not fix the roof. Everyone has a similar story whether it is the disrepair of a class or a boiling room in September or June or a freezing room in the middle of winter. I have been to the classes where five and six-year-old children have to wear their coats all day. This is not putting our students in the best situation to learn.”
Campbell said the TREA executive board held discussions on the referendum and announced the union’s full support of the measure.
“The questions have been asked and answered about the mechanics of the referendum. Every dollar that is earmarked for a project must, by law, go to that project. The plans for each building are available on-line through the schools website,” he added. “The total referendum is $165 million. $17.8 million is funded through the ESIP project. $47 million will come from the state with no additional burden to the taxpayers. This money may not be available in the future. The remaining $100 million is funded by the referendum. This money will be paid for through local taxes. The general fund will not be used to repay this. By not touching the general fund, the day-to-day operation of the district will continue. This will ensure that no reduction in staff will occur as a result the referendum.”
The crucial vote will now be determined over the next 24 hours. Regardless of the outcome, the voters will have to decide what becomes of the school board that led the district down the path it currently finds it itself.