Long Branch City Council Addresses Potential $10 Million School Budget Cut

In a recent Long Branch City Council meeting, the issue of a potential $10 million reduction in state aid for Long Branch public schools dominated discussions. The significant funding cut, the largest across New Jersey’s school districts, could negatively impact local education programs and services. During the public participation segment, Alex Smiga, a teacher and vice president of the Long Branch School Employees Association, expressed deep concerns about how these cuts would hurt the community, especially the students. Smiga urged the city council and audience members to amplify their message to state legislators and advocate for additional state aid to mitigate the drastic funding reductions.

Mayor John Pallone responded, acknowledging the council’s support for the educators and detailing ongoing efforts to address the funding crisis. Pallone mentioned a commitment from Senator Vin Gopal to change the school funding formula and the pursuit of a supplemental funding bill to alleviate the $10 million shortfall for the current year. He noted conversations with the education commissioner, Senator Gopal, superintendent Rodriguez, and other council members, emphasizing a collective effort to secure consistent future funding for Long Branch schools.

The meeting also included a proclamation declaring March 24th as Irish American Heritage Month in Long Branch, recognizing the contributions of Irish Americans to the city and the nation. Another item discussed was a capital ordinance for the construction of a boardwalk extension in the city, with an appropriation of $3,249,000 funded by a New Jersey Boardwalk Preservation Fund Grant. The ordinance moved forward with plans for a public hearing on March 27, 2024.

Public comments brought various community concerns to the forefront, including criticisms of past tax abatements and their impact on school funding, as well as challenges related to obtaining audit reports for local developments. A call to close the public portion was made without further notable discussion.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Mayor:
John Pallone
City Council Officials:
Rose Widdis, Dr. Mary Jane Celli, Bill Dangler, Mario Vieira, Dr. Anita Voogt

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