Rabbi Avi Schnall: Toms River Will Save $13,233,650 by Transporting Children to Private Schools

In reference to the August 23rd article titled, “Toms River Regional Will Pay $850K for Parents to Transport Kids to Lakewood Religious Schools”, there is a crucial point that I’d like to mention. By sending children to private schools, Toms River residents are actually saving over $15,000 in tax money per child, totaling $13,233,650 for 850 students.

As all Toms River homeowners pay their share of property taxes, private school parents are contributing equally to the public school coffers to that of their neighbors who educate their children by sending them to public school. According to state statistics, last year, Toms River Regional spent $16,659 per public-school student. The district is only required to pay $1000 for transportation services to those attending a private school, which is $15,569 less than the district is paying for Toms River public school students.

For those who question the legalities of using taxpayer money for transportation to religious schools, the question has already been proven constitutional in a 1947 Supreme Court case. The highest court of the land ruled that since taxpayer money for transportation to private schools goes to the parents, regardless of religion, and not to the religious institution itself, there is nothing illegal about reimbursing parents for transportation costs.

Towns with growing numbers of private school students should embrace the savings. I don’t imagine that anyone would suggest that any particular community should be prevented from attending the school of their choice, whether public or private. Parents who send their children to private schools, despite their rights to a full public school education, and despite the fact that they are contributing to the costs of public schools with their tax dollars, willingly choose to shoulder the burden of their child’s education at their own expense. By doing so, they save the district and all its tax payers a tremendous amount of money. Residents of these towns should be grateful to the private school parents. Imagine what would happen if all those 850 children were to enroll in the Toms River Regional public schools?

Avi Schnall

Director, New Jersey office of Agudath Israel of America

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  1. This articlejos not exactly accurate. They don’t actually pay out per student. It’s the amount it cost to run the school divided by the amount of students.

  2. Thank you for this article. Perhaps our neighbors that don’t send to private school and who pay their taxes alike will see that “we” “they” “them” aren’t stealing tax payers money to send our precious children to the school of our choice. The state AG and DOJ must investigate and hold acountible the biased media that has and continues to plague our community. We want nothing more than to live in harmony with our neighbors but the biased media outlets have an agenda to destroy our true image,the comments on NJ.com are full of completely false accusations and just make our neighbors more angry at us, something must be done, I fear for my children’s safety in Ocean County NJ.

  3. The anti-Semites that hate us, hate us because they hate Jews. They hate the fact that Hitler couldn’t finish off the job. They hate the fact that we exist. If we’re rich they say we took their money, if we’re poor they say we don’t contribute to the economy. If we send to private school and save them tens of thousands of dollars, they say we are taking their money by getting a transportation grant. If we would enroll our children in public school they would say we should go to private school. A hater hates because he hates and there is nothing you can or can’t do to take away his hatred of the Jewish people. It’s sad, but unfortunately it’s the reality in this area today.

  4. Dear lover of Jews:

    You are mistaken. Writing such articles makes Jew-hatred a toppic sanctioned to be spoken about publicly. Such openness is dangerous for us. It also allows politicians to run on bias platforms and to get away with it, as society, fueled by the media, lets such bigotry be fair conversation.

    It can be argued that we are in Galus and our place is not to “hold them accountable”, and some Rabbanim have said as much, but to claim that these articles are harmless is, in my opinion, mistaken.

  5. Avi’s letter neglects one thing; even assuming the $ numbers are correct, it still would not cost the district that much. Because Avi does not take into account the state formula for aid. The state would give Tons River more money if those kids would be in the public school system.

    This is just another reason that we NEED to have the politicians we support absolutely commit to changing the state formula. The VAAD should not endorse candidates who don’t make that commitment. Because if we are being honest, the problem we have in Lakewood will eventually occur in Jackson and Toms River if the state formula is not changed

  6. While I tend to agree with Avi on most issues, his cost estimate here is too simplistic particularly for Tom’s River. TR has 16,000 students and declining enrollment. It could likely absorb 850 students with no or maybe a marginal cost increase. FOR EXAMPLE, the administrative share of the per pupil cost would be lower because it would not be affected and would be spread over more students.. New students placed in existing classes would only require the cost of textbooks and supplies but not additional teacher compensation, the lion’s share of the per pupil cost. Of course out-of-district special education placements would have varying cost consequences depending on where they are placed. Again, the actual cost impact depends on individual district factors. While this situation would significantly impact the Lakewood Public Schools, it would likely only have a marginal impact on Toms River.

    The bottom line the law has been around for decades, and private school parents pay State and Local Taxes. Their children are entitled to benefits that don’t violate the establishment clause.

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