Earlier this month, Tabernacle Board of Education members met with 9th District Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove to discuss state aid funding reductions.
Those who attended the May 7 meeting were BOE President Victoria Shoemaker, co-president of Tabernacle Education Association Kate Cutts, Lenape Regional High School District Business Administrator Constance Stewart, township Committeeman Stephen Lee and Superintendent of Tabernacle Schools Glenn Robbins. State Sen. Chris Connors was not able to make the meeting.
The group of Tabernacle and Lenape Regional district members met with lawmakers to continue the conversation about the stance of a bill, S-2, and if they were still supporting the districts.
The bill signed last year enforced changes to the School Funding Reform Act of 2008. Those changes propose to spread money throughout the state to balance the scale for “under-funded” districts. In turn, the state is slashing aid to some districts, including an estimated total of $24 million over the next five years to the LRHSD.
Over the past year, LRHSD and other districts that have been affected by the cuts have formed a coalition to combat the loss of state aid. Support Our Students is comprised of 71 school districts throughout the state representing more than 150,000 students, according to the district’s website.
According to Robbins, the lawmakers are still in support of the district and the efforts of the SOS coalition.
“We know where these two assemblypeople in District 9 stand, and we need to continue to be supportive and representative in Trenton, knowing that they’ll be fighting our fight,” said Robbins.
In the midst of the conversation, one of the lawmaker’s chief of staff mentioned that they received 87 letters from Tabernacle residents urging the legislature to reconsider the bill.
Many of the Tabernacle and Lenape Regional district members were surprised the number was so low, given that the district had to make such difficult and controversial cuts in recent weeks.
Tabernacle has already witnessed damaging cuts when a beloved principal and multiple special education teachers were let go at the most recent board meeting, where the 2019-2020 budget was approved.
During that meeting, the full room of Tabernacle residents and teachers was outraged at the board for its decision. However, the board, along with Superintendent Glenn Robbins, explained to the public the state is leaving them with no other option. He urged the public to write letters to the state and join the SOS coalition.
Robbins, after the meeting, explained that residents all over the state need to keep sending letters and emails and leaving voicemails to the lawmakers to make their voices heard.
In addition, lawmakers at the meeting introduced a state-wide petition backed by members in the senate urging Governor Murphy to end the state funding cuts. They, and Tabernacle and Lenape Regional district members, urge residents to sign.
The public can find the petition at www.senatenj.com/saveourschools/.