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State to Return Over $700K in Funding it Cut From Brick Schools

Mayor John Ducey speaks on school funding, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Mayor John Ducey speaks on school funding, June 21, 2017. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

New Jersey will return the funding it announced it was cutting earlier this year from the Brick Township school system, officials announced Wednesday morning.

The return of $720,507 in state funding for the district comes after months of lobbying by district officials and local state legislators. The restored funding will be used to purchase items and make improvements that were put off because of the shortfall.

Last spring, the state proposed taking about $1.4 million in funding away from the Brick school districts under a deal hatched by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. Gov. Chris Christie agreed as part of the budget wrangling that shut down state government over the Memorial Day holiday. Sweeney and Prieto targeted Brick, Toms River and other districts that receive so-called “transitional aid,” which is aid provided to districts the state determines has too low of a tax rate to support its schools.

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The state eventually halved their proposed cuts in aid, but Brick appealed to have the full amount of funding restored, with their arguments focusing on the fact that Brick’s tax base has yet to fully recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Acting Superintendent Dennis Filippone praised the work of Business Administrator James Edwards, and Interim Director, Thomas Gialanella “for their diligent effort to provide the documents and information to the NJ Department of Education outlining the effect the cuts would have on the students and taxpayers of Brick Township,” he said in a statement.

“Mr. Edwards and his staff put many hours into the arduous task of producing the numerous pages of information the NJDOE requested,” he said. “Mr. Edwards and Mr. Gialanella worked with Trenton to provide the professionals with documentation demonstrating that Brick is a low spending district that would be hurt by these cuts.”

Filippone also praised the cooperation from State Sen. James Holzapfel, Assemblymen Dave Wolfe and Greg McGuckin, and 10th District staff member Glen Feldman.

“Without their tireless efforts we would not have had a successful outcome,” said Filippone. “They worked hard to restore our funds and showed how much they cared about our district and students.”

Toms River, which had double the amount of aid slashed as Brick, also had its funding restored Wednesday.