In the aftermath of the New Jersey Department of Education announcing State Aid Summaries for the 2024-25 School Year, many South Jersey School Districts are being forced to make alternative plans for how to cover expenses moving forward.

In South Jersey, 63 School Districts are losing State Funding and are having to make adjustments for the 2024-25 School Year. Except for Cumberland County, every South Jersey County has School Districts seeing their State Aid cut for the next School Year.

How Many South Jersey School Districts Getting State Aid Cut

*Atlantic County: 11
*Camden County: 11
*Cape May County: 10
*Gloucester County: 9
*Ocean County: 17
*Salem County: 5

Even though New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy claims that the state is making "investments in education", we see School Districts like Runnemede losing $4.1 Million in State Funding. The optics say that New Jersey is "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" by taking funding away from certain School Districts and redirecting that money to others.

One way School Districts can try to offset the State Aid Cuts is to ask the residents of the sending district to be a part of bridging the funding gap.  In Dennis Township, the School District wants to put a Special Question on the ballot to ask voters to approve adding $1.9 Million to the 2024-25 School Budget through a tax levy.

Should South Jersey School Districts Ask For More Money?

During the November 2023 election, Dennis Township voters rejected the previous Ballot Question that would have added $1.3 million to the School Budget via a tax levy. For residents of the South Jersey Community, Dennis Township Residents see 68.75% of their tax rate goes to the School District.

Elementary School in Dennis Township, New Jersey
Photo from Google Maps

So is it fair for Dennis Township or any South Jersey School District to ask voters to bridge a budget gap with a tax levy?  For Dennis Township, when they asked the voters for the tax levy with the 2023 Ballot Question, they claimed to be unable to pay for clubs and sports without the funding.

The good news is sports and clubs were not eliminated after the Dennis Township voters said "No" to the Ballot Question because private donations from the community helped the field hockey, baseball, and softball programs. Some can argue that the community should help support the after-school programs that are essential parts of the children's school experience.

But should a School District make the Parents in the community have a higher tax bill to ensure their children have Sports and Clubs to participate in? I certainly do not think so considering that Dennis Township Schools rank in the Bottom 50 percent in New Jersey for Academic Proficiency.  Why threaten to take away popular after-school activities when the School District has other issues to address?

There are 63 South Jersey School Districts that have their State Aid cut and it is safe to say that every school district does not have the same financial challenges as others. I will not make general statements about how all of those School Districts should handle losing significant amounts of state funding.  But I do not think there has to be a better way than asking residents to pay more on their tax bill.

Speaking of Tax Bills, how does your town compare to other New Jersey Municipalities' property taxes?  Check out the full list below to see the numbers for yourself:

Average property taxes in New Jersey

These are the county and municipal average property taxes for 2023. The data comes from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

Gallery Credit: New Jersey 101.5

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