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Dr. Hazel's Letter to the Community

  • June 18, 2024

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  • Dear Freehold Regional High School District Community:

  • For several years Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD) administrators and the Board of Education have been extremely vocal with our community and state leaders regarding the need for change in the school funding formula, especially regarding the devastating cuts brought by Senate Bill 2 (S2). I’m happy to report that bipartisan support resulted in legislation that provides some budgetary relief to the FRHSD.  That is why I am reaching out to the FRHSD community at large with context regarding a modified budget our Board of Education and administration will set forth for Department of Education approval.

  • The past six years have strained the FRHSD as S2 reshaped New Jersey’s school funding formula, leading to devastating cuts in the distribution of state aid to our district. Those reductions in state aid since the inception of S2 totaled approximately $21 million for the FRHSD. While legislation last year provided temporary relief (and the reinstatement of courtesy busing) from the remaining years of S2, the FRHSD faces an estimated $10.8 million reduction in state aid for the 2025-2026 school year budget. 

  • Our budget as initially adopted eliminated positions, eliminated certain instructional support programs, and deferred particular capital projects. New legislation signed by Governor Murphy grants an opportunity to increase taxes above the 2% tax levy cap. This new legislation recognizes that districts have not been able to access their full Local Fair Share due to the 2% tax levy cap and looks to assist districts in recouping additional monies to get closer to the state-calculated adequacy budget target - the amount of money New Jersey determines as necessary to provide a thorough and efficient education. 

  • By increasing the tax levy through this new legislation it becomes part of the tax base for all future budgets. This will greatly assist with addressing the $19 million projected revenue deficit for the 2025-2026 budget. Importantly, this additional revenue will reduce the scope and extent of difficult decisions being considered for the 2025-2026 budget which were noted in our Budget Presentation in April, and will restore some of the cuts contained in the previously adopted budget putting the district in a better financial position to handle the expected state aid reductions next budget year. 

  • Our District has carefully examined multiple scenarios regarding what the tax impact would look like for FRHSD taxpayers. We propose a solution to restore a portion of the budget cuts planned for the 2024-2025 school year. With this revised budget, we plan to:

    • Rehire staff members,

    • Restore instructional programs and supports,

    • Enhance security measures, and

    • Address targeted facility needs.

     

  • We have worked tirelessly on behalf of our school community, including our taxpayers, to overcome the state’s flawed school funding formula. We take pride in sustaining our reputation as one of New Jersey's top-performing school districts while maintaining spending well below the state's average per-pupil costs. 

  • The administration and Board of Education understand that any increase in taxes is concerning, which is why we remain committed to advocating for a funding formula that benefits all students. 

  • I thank you for your continued understanding and support. I also want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Board of Education, which has remained committed to ensuring the FRHSD is a source of pride for this community.

  • Gratefully, 


  • Dr. Nicole Hazel

  • Proud Superintendent of Schools
    Freehold Regional High School District