Jackson council will boost school budget with $1M from surplus fund

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JACKSON – Members of the Jackson Township Council have voted to use $1 million from the municipality’s surplus funds (savings) to help the Jackson School District in its time of need.

The Board of Education recently introduced a $152.6 million budget for the 2020-21 school year. The spending plan includes reductions in several areas of the school district’s operation that administrators attributed to an ongoing reduction in state aid.

Jackson will lose $3.48 million in state aid from 2019-20 to 2020-21 under the terms of a state law known as S-2 that was enacted in 2018. The reduction in state aid is expected to continue through the 2024-25 school year.

Council President Barry Calogero, Vice President Alex Sauickie, Councilman Andrew Kern, Councilman Ken Bressi and Councilman Martin Flemming voted to appropriate $1 million in surplus municipal funds for use by the school district during a March 24 meeting.

“As a community, we take pride in the quality education provided in our town and the positive impact that reputation has on property values in Jackson,’’ Calogero said.

“Now, perhaps more than ever, we are mindful of how important it is for a community to come together for the betterment of the families we serve. We are proud to make a significant investment in our children, our future,” he said.

Mayor Michael Reina said, “Since Gov. (Phil) Murphy took office, most of the local school district budgets have been under constant assault.

“It baffles me how he can strip our school districts of such needed funding, leaving the community to figure out how to either make up the difference or live within our district’s shameful new budget, but then offer free college tuition at the same time. Where does his commitment to serving the needs of all K-12 New Jersey school children lie exactly?

“The funding losses being experienced by the school district are atrocious and the programs and services that were on the chopping block would have been devastating. There is a state law that allows us to help the school district offset some of these losses and we followed the law to do what we could to help.

“Through sound financial responsibility in Jackson, we are in a position to help our school district continue to provide the needed programs. During times like this we are not the township and the school district, we are one Jackson,” the mayor said.

Superintendent of Schools Stephen Genco said the school district is grateful to municipal officials for making the $1 million in surplus funds available.

“We are so grateful to the township for stepping in and helping to ensure that Jackson students do not lose vital supports, programs and opportunities,” Genco said.

“We are incredibly fortunate to share a collaborative, respectful relationship with our township officials. We are proud of our shared services and also our shared philosophy that all decisions must be made with all taxpayers and all stakeholders in mind,” he said.

Administrators said the 2020-21 school budget that was introduced in March will be modified prior to a public hearing later in April to restore items through the use of the township’s financial assistance.

Jackson School District budget documents are available at www.jacksonsd.org