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Freehold Borough school board joins effort seeking additional state aid

FREEHOLD – In response to what district administrators consider to be an unfair distribution of state school aid, the Freehold Borough K-8 School District Board of Education has joined an organization that is pursuing what it describes as fair school funding.

On April 9, board members passed a resolution to join the Fair Funding Action Committee. The committee, according to the resolution, is recognized as a statewide fair school funding activist organization with the objective of achieving full and equitable school funding for all of New Jersey’s public schools. The resolution states the committee has the ability to coordinate and connect underfunded school districts statewide.

The amount of state aid received by Freehold Borough on an annual basis is a source of concern for district administrators who say Freehold Borough is one of the most underfunded school districts in New Jersey.

For the 2018-19 school year, the district will receive $11.23 million in state aid, including $9.1 million in what the state calls equalization aid, to support a $27.6 million budget the board introduced on March 19.

According to district administrators, the $9.1 million in equalization aid is $12.2 million less than what Freehold Borough is owed under the School Funding Reform Act of 2008.

The district’s enrollment stands at about 1,700 pupils.

“The district is owed over $12 million in state aid per the state funding law,” Superintendent of Schools Rocco Tomazic said following the introduction of the 2018-19 budget. “That is the number that represents the district being fully funded.

“Receiving an increase (in state aid) this year of only $534,991 is barely sufficient to keep our head above water. Freehold is actively pursuing more state aid for fiscal year 2019. The arbitrary method aid continues to be distributed by is injurious to our students,” Tomazic said.

According to the resolution, district representatives have been advocating for the fair and equal distribution of state aid under the School Funding Reform Act of 2008 for many years and have previously joined with other underfunded school districts to advocate for the legal and equitable distribution of direct state aid to districts.

“It has been and remains the position of the Freehold Borough Board of Education that whatever state budget allocation exists for direct school aid, should be and is legally required to be distributed equitably to school districts,” the resolution states.

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