TOWNSHIP OF OCEAN, NJ – Not all taxpayers in Ocean Township have school-aged children. That said, even parents may question where their tax dollars go when it comes to the education portion of their bill.

During a recent meeting with Dr. Christopher Lommerin, Superintendent of Schools, he provided some valuable insight. Lommerin has worked in the district for the last eleven years.

“There are approximately 500 students from Pre-K through sixth grade within the district,” shared Lommerin. “Our teacher to student ratio is about 1:18.”

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“Once students reach seventh grade, they go on to the Southern Regional Middle School,” continued Lommerin. “They next move on to Southern Regional High School.”

Lommerin estimated that a total of 450 Ocean Township students overall are currently in the Southern Regional School District. Other communities that are part of the Regional School District include members of the Long Beach Island Consolidated School District, which is comprised of Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City.

Beach Haven and Stafford Township are also part of the Southern Regional School District. A number of communities, including Manahawkin, are part of Stafford Township.

However, when it comes to Ocean Township students, there is a distinction. “Over half of our budget goes to paying tuition and transportation,” explained Lommerin. “We pay the Southern Regional School District $14K per year for each of our students.”

In the meantime, Lommerin has been buckling down on expenses within the local district. “Over the next five years, we are losing one-third of our budget,” he said.

The state has announced its intention to phase out state aid by $5.7M within the next five years. “I’m extremely concerned,” admitted Lommerin.

To address the situation, the district isn’t replacing retirees or terminations. Lommerin has also established priorities concerning the need for supplies and enhanced technology.

“We intended to give each student a laptop,” Lommerin said. “For now, we’re putting that on hold.”

Even with the possibility of a school budget crisis, the District Superintendent remained optimistic. “Our job is to educate kids, and we will continue to do so,” he emphatically remarked. “The Board of Education has the same priorities.”

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net.