By MICHAEL NUNES
NEWARK — The superintendent of Red Bank Borough Public Schools joined his counterpart in Freehold Borough to ask the state to review its funding formula, citing that both districts were underfunded.
Jared Rumage, the superintendent of Red Bank Borough Public Schools, along with Freehold Borough School District Superintendent of Schools Rocco Tomazic delivered a joint testimony to the state budget committee on March 22 during a public hearing on the budget at the campus of the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
“Both our districts are severely underfunded. The previous two years of flat funding in state aid and the current proposal, which is essentially flat funding, have placed us in extraordinary circumstances,” Rumage said to the senate budget committee.
According to Rumage, the district expects to receive $3.05 million in state aid for the 2016-17 school year, an increase from the $2.99 million Red Bank received last year.
“Pumping more money to over-adequate districts, while under-adequate districts starve for funds is wrong. We look to make the distribution of state aid fair and consistent with the School Funding Reform Act formula, which remains law in New Jersey,” he continued.
Rumage’s sentiments were echoed by Tomazic.
“Our districts would not be in the dire straits we are now in if the state aid were readjusted, taking funds away from overfunded districts and reallocating those funds to underfunded districts,” Tomazic said, going on to say that Freehold Borough is the third most underfunded school district in the state and Red Bank is the 13th.
State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) responded to the testimony from both superintendents, thanking them for addressing the committee.
She addressed the underfunding of the Freehold Borough schools, saying that they are “40 percent below adequacy or $13 million behind.”
“The local taxpayer, in a 1.6-square-mile town, is already funding the education there by $2 million more than the state says they should,” Beck said, going on to say Red Bank was 37 percent below adequacy.
“As we all get into this issue more, because it is very complex and has many moving parts to it, this is just really about educating all of us that the disparity is out there,” Beck said.
“I think it underscores our need to act.”