EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — We are pleased to announce that we have received approval from Governor Murphy and state health officials to restart operations. Endless winter will resume at Big SNOW starting next Tuesday, September 1st and while we were happy to do our part to help flatten the curve, we can’t wait to get back to sliding on snow with all of you. A lot has changed in the world since we were last together and our team has spent these months re-inventing our team and guest experiences to ensure everyone’s safety when we re-open. Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with our new COVID-19 precautions and requirements by clicking through the link in our bio. Among the many changes you will see is that advance ticket purchases will be required, so if you would like to be among the first to get back on snow with us please head over to our site to plan your visit. BIG looks forward to welcoming you all back very soon.
We have missed you these past few months, but we have been using this time to make sure that we will be ready welcome you back, safely and responsibly to enjoy the snow with us this season.
Over these many weeks our team has worked tirelessly to re-imagine every step of our guest and team member journeys to be sure that everyone’s health and safety is ensured.
You will notice numerous changes to your Big SNOW experience when we reopen our doors, but our commitment to delivering you a unique and fun on-snow experience in a safe and welcoming environment remains the same.
Here are just some of the many health and safety changes you should be aware of prior to your next visit…
Our team members will undergo daily health screenings and temperature checks prior to entering the facility, and have been trained thoroughly on all our new health and safety measures.
We will be limiting the amount of face-to-face interactions you will need to have with our team onsite and we are requiring advanced online purchase for all snow park visits.
To better allow for social distancing we will be limiting the number of guests allowed in the park and Shop at Big SNOW at any one time. We will also be limiting the amount of tickets sold per arrival session and ask that you arrive no earlier than 5 minutes before your scheduled arrival time.
We have instituted contactless scanning for arrival and entry into and out of the snow dome. Please have your receipts and media ready and follow the instructions provided.
Face coverings will be required for all guests and team members at all times. Additionally, gloves will be required for all guests entering the snow. If you forget your gloves or mask, we will have them available for purchase at retail.
You will notice an increased focus on cleaning and sanitization. All frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized regularly, this includes our counters, handrails, restrooms, seating areas and all rental equipment. As an extra precaution our retail associates will be utilizing UV lighting and steamers to sanitize any retail items that have been touched or tried on for sizing. We kindly ask that you try to limit the amount of surfaces you touch during your visit and make use of the hand sanitizer stations we have made available throughout the facility.
We will be adhering to strict social distancing precautions. Please keep a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and others and follow the guide signs we have placed throughout the facility to assist you in keeping good distance.
As always, locker use remains included as part of your visit. To better assist with social distancing and sanitization we are limiting the amount of lockers in use at any one time, and encouraging guests to sit only where directed on our benches. Please look for and use only the lockers with a sanitization card inside them, and please dispose of this card upon use.
For any guest renting with us, please know that all rental equipment will be sanitized after each guest use. As an added precaution we encourage guests to bring their own underlayers, socks and hats to be worn under our rental gear. Changing rooms are available and will be sanitized after each guest use.
Please note that gloves are not provided with clothing rental and will be required for all guests entering the snow.
Gloves and face coverings will be required for all guests entering the snow. Please be sure to scan yourself into the dome upon entry and out upon exit. While inside please adhere to all posted signage, lift riding requirements and social distancing markers.
For the safety of our guests we are limiting the grouping of guests on our chair lift to only those guests who have arrived together. If you need assistance with using the lift please ask a team member for help.
If you are a beginner, please take advantage of our Terrain Based Learning features and signage to help guide you through the use of the features with some helpful tips to get you started. If you need more assistance our Snow Guides will be stationed to provide you with some socially distant personalized assistance.
Keeping Big SNOW safe is everyone’s responsibility. Please help us and do your part by following these guidelines. With these precautions in place there is no reason why we can’t safely and responsibly enjoy the snow together. We look forward to welcoming you back.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on August 26, 2020, Alexander Politan, 31, of Toms River, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to seven years in New Jersey State Prison. On February 25, 2020, Politan pled guilty to Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, as well as Driving with a Suspended License in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, before Judge Ryan. Judge Ryan also imposed a six-month loss of driving privileges.
On Friday, October 4, 2019, at approximately 9:20 p.m., Lakewood Police were summoned to Oak Street, south of Albert Avenue in Lakewood Township for a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. Investigation at the scene revealed that Jesus Lopez-Grande, 15, of Lakewood, and his father, Jesus Lopez-Ramirez, 37, also of Lakewood, were walking near the shoulder portion of Oak Street when they were struck by a vehicle. Jesus Lopez-Ramirez sustained an injury to his elbow. Jesus Lopez-Grande was found lying face down in the driveway of a home on Oak Street. Jesus Lopez-Grande suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Further investigation revealed vehicle debris was left at the scene. Detectives determined from the debris that vehicle parts located at the crash scene belonged to a black 2014 Jeep Cherokee. At that time, the Lakewood Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office launched an extensive search to locate that vehicle. On Sunday, October 6, 2019, a black Jeep Cherokee matching the description of the suspect vehicle was discovered in the driveway of a residence on New Hampshire Avenue in Toms River. The residence was unoccupied. The black Jeep Cherokee had damage to the passenger side. A search warrant was obtained for the Jeep Cherokee.
Further investigation revealed that Politan was operating the vehicle when it struck Jesus Lopez-Grande and Jesus Lopez-Grande. Politan was located and apprehended on October 8, 2019. He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his arrest.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy and Assistant Prosecutor Kate Burke who handled the case on behalf of the State, and extends his gratitude to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Toms River Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit for their combined efforts in securing this state prison sentence.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Trenton man has been arrested and charged with last week’s shooting homicide of Rahkeem Ortiz, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.
Arthur Ford, 29, of Home Avenue, is charged with murder and weapons offenses. There is no scheduled court appearance at this time. He was taken into custody Tuesday evening in Pocomoke, Maryland, at a family member’s home by members of the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force. He is currently being held in Worchester County Jail pending extradition.
The charges are the result of an investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force. At approximately 1:40 p.m. on Monday, August 17, 2020, Trenton police responded to a shooting in progress in the area of the Broad Street Parking Lot on South Broad Street. Officers arrived on scene at the public parking lot and located the victim, later identified as 29-year-old Rahkeem Ortiz of Blackwood, NJ, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Ortiz was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
After the shooting, the Trenton Police Department’s Communications Center received several calls with descriptions of a black male fleeing the area. Homicide detectives were able to canvas the area and locate multiple surveillance cameras. Through video footage and witness statements, detectives were able to positively identify Ford as the shooter.
Despite having been charged, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Collaborative operation targeting offenders sexually exploiting children online was launched in response to spike in cyber threats to children during COVID 19 pandemic. Attorney General warns parents and offers tips to keep children safe as they return to virtual learning, with more screen time and, in many cases, no in-person teacher supervision
August 26, 2020
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced arrests of 21 individuals who are charged with sexually exploiting children online. The 19 men, one woman, and one juvenile male were arrested in “Operation Screen Capture,” a collaborative operation launched in response to a dramatic increase in reports of potential threats to children from online predators during the COVID pandemic.
Three defendants – two men and one woman – are charged with sexually assaulting or attempting to sexually assault children. Eighteen are charged with endangering the welfare of children for possession and/or distribution of child sexual abuse materials, including, in many cases, child rape videos.
Cyber tips to the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force about potential threats to children online – including tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) – have increased up to 50 percent in New Jersey since the COVID emergency began in March, compared to the same time frame last year. Many cases in this operation stemmed from cyber tips from NCMEC, but others involved undercover chat investigations where perpetrators were attempting to meet children or other individuals online in order to sexually assault children.
Operation Screen Capture was led by the Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey State Police, ICAC Task Force, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, and Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office.The New Jersey State Parole Board assisted with arrests and search warrants.
The arrests, made between March 18 and July 31, 2020 include the following cases:
Aaron Craiger. Craiger, 34, of Oklahoma, a registered sex offender, was arrested on March 18 at a motel in Atlantic City after he allegedly traveled from Oklahoma to meet two men who offered him access to underage girls for sex. In reality, the defendant had communicated with undercover investigators from the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. One investigator pretended to offer his 12-year-old daughter for sex, and the other, his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter.Craiger, who had condoms with him when arrested, also allegedly possessed and distributed child sexual abuse materials.
Jason Berry. Berry, 40, of Keansburg, N.J., allegedly sexually exploited a 14-year-old girl he met on social media, manipulating her into sending him naked pictures of herself engaging in sexual acts. He allegedly had the girl carve his initials into her legs. He then tricked the girl into revealing her mother’s phone number and sent those images to her mother.
Alize Tejada. Tejada, 21, of Newark, N.J., allegedly sexually assaulted a very young child.She allegedly videotaped herself performing a sexual act on the child and posted the video on social media.
“Reports to our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of potential predatory conduct against children are up as much as 50 percent during the COVID emergency as homebound children, starved for outside contact, spend more time on their devices, and opportunistic sexual predators target them online,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We urge parents to be vigilant about the online activities of their children and warn children that the strangers they meet on popular social media sites, apps and gaming platforms may be out to harm them. We will continue to work overtime to arrest child predators and those who participate in the cruel exploitation of children by sharing child sexual abuse materials.”
In past cases, the ICAC Task Force has arrested child predators who used the following chat apps: Kik, Skout, Grindr, Whisper, Omegle, Tinder, Chat Avenue, Chat Roulette, Wishbone, Live.ly, Musical.ly, Paltalk, Yubo, Hot or Not, Down, and Tumblr.Arrests also have been made involving the gaming apps Fortnite, Minecraft, and Discord.Attorney General Grewal urged parents to familiarize themselves with these and other apps and warn their children about sharing information with strangers.
“As children return to virtual learning this fall, they will be spending even more time online, in many cases without any in-person teacher supervision or peer contact,” Attorney General Grewal added. “This may make them even more vulnerable. We want parents to be aware of the dangers— and, as we highlighted in a recent virtual town hall with the State Police and Department of Children and Families, we want everyone to know that there are resources to help children who are struggling with social isolation or who may be victims of trauma or abuse.”
“Operation Screen Capture is a great example of how law enforcement in New Jersey works together seamlessly through the ICAC Task Force to confront the threat of online predators, raise awareness among parents, and protect our children,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Whether we are running down tips from NCMEC or conducting undercover chats, we use our cyber expertise each day to apprehend those who use the internet to harm, abuse, and exploit children.”
“Our children are at an increased risk to fall victim to opportunistic online predators during this pandemic, as students have no choice but to turn to their devices to connect with friends and family and in many cases to prepare for remote learning,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, and we will be unrelenting in our efforts to keep our children safe, but we cannot do it alone. We urge all parents and guardians to have conversations with your children about the dangers that exist on the internet and to closely monitor their online activity.”
“The internet has been instrumental in allowing our children to continue their educations remotely during this pandemic.However, it has also been used by the very worst among us to exploit them as well,” said Jason Molina, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Newark. “These various cases, which involve both teenagers and very young children, show the level of depravity of these predators.Some pursue physical contact initiated via online introductions, in some cases even crossing state lines, while others exclusively pursue these innocents online. In either case, the psychological damage to children is long lasting.In the face of that, only a very united effort of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, along with the hypervigilant efforts of parents to monitor their children’s online activity, can be effective to stop them and bring them to justice.”
Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said, “More and more, all of us look to the internet for remote connections because of work, school, or simply to surf the web, but this operation is a reminder that there are individuals who use the internet to traffic sexually explicit images and videos of children. We are proud to be part of this effort to identify, arrest, and aggressively prosecute those who are exploiting our children and our increased reliance on virtual connections by accessing and sharing illegal images and videos.”
“It cannot be emphasized strongly enough how important it is for parents to become educated about cyber threats, and take measures to protect their children from becoming victimized,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said. “Our way of life has been altered by this pandemic. It used to be that kids would play outside, and parents would check on them every so often to make sure they were safe. But the dangers they face have become much more direct now that they are spending a greater amount of time online than they ever have before. These threats are not readily visible, and effortlessly gain access to our homes, posing a very real risk to our children. We will continue to do everything legally allowable to find and punish those who are responsible.”
“It is a disturbing reality that predators are using the pandemic as an opportunity to target children as their online activity increases,” said Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill Mayer. “This operation, and the resulting arrests, show that law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and the ICAC Task Force are working diligently together to identify, catch, and arrest these individuals.My message to anyone out there who is using the internet to target children— we are watching and you will be caught. Parents need to be mindful that as we enter a school year with remote learning, there will be predators online looking for potential victims. We encourage all parents to take this time to talk to their children about internet safety, even if you’ve had this discussion before. Keeping our children safe is something that can never be discussed too much.”
“Crimes against children are among the most disturbing, yet often the toughest to prosecute,” said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II. “This joint effort underscores the willingness of law enforcement at all levels to work together to protect our most vulnerable from those who would use the internet and other means to prey upon children. In this age, when so many children are relying on computers for their education, entertainment and social life, we are committed to make the internet community as safe as possible.”
“The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office eagerly participated in this joint law enforcement effort focusing on individuals who felt our attention to their bad acts targeting vulnerable children was diverted,” said Acting Gloucester County Prosecutor Christine Hoffman. “To the contrary, we remain committed and vigilant, and never allow geography or jurisdictional boundaries to slow our collective efforts. We’ll continue to use every investigative tool available to identify, apprehend and convict those who prey on our children.”
“The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office was proud to take part in Operation Screen Capture with our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force partners,” said Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri. “The success of the operation highlights how important it is that parents and guardians know that these online predators are out there, especially as remote learning begins again and children spend more and more time on their screens. And it’s just as important that anyone who would use the internet as a tool to harm our kids knows that my office will continue to use every resource at its disposal to identify, investigate, and arrest you before you have the chance to do it.”
“The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office welcomed the opportunity to participate in Operation Screen Capture as a member of the ICAC Task Force,” said Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone. “This statewide investigation illustrates the fine work and collaboration of many law enforcement agencies in New Jersey. These agencies are dedicated to protecting our communities, especially our children. We thank all of the participating agencies.”
“Our relationship with ICAC has proved to be vital in protecting and safeguarding children from sexual predators,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer. “We will continue to collaborate with all of our law enforcement partners to do everything we can to root out those individuals that prey on our children. To that end, it is imperative for all parents to keep an eye on the online activities of their children.”
“The Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office was a proud participant in Operation Screen Capture,” said Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch. “This statewide operation demonstrates the dedicated collaboration of all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey to proactively protect all children. As important as today’s announcement of the arrests of these defendants is, the message to parents and children to be even more vigilant and guarded while online is equally important. Today, children are required to have an increased online presence that subjects them to predators looking to take advantage of them. We therefore ask all parents and guardians to take an even greater role in their children’s online activities. We in law enforcement pledge to continue to commit ourselves to do all we can to help protect all children and to root out the despicable predators preying on them.”
Craiger, Berry, and Tejada are being prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice.They were ordered detained in jail pending trial.The Division of Criminal Justice is also prosecuting six defendants charged with possessing and/or distributing child sexual abuse materials.The 12 other defendants are being prosecuted by the nine county prosecutors’ offices.
The 21 defendants arrested in “Operation Screen Capture” were charged as follows:
1. Aaron Craiger, 34, of Oklahoma. Gas station attendant.Arrested March 18.Two Counts of Attempted Aggravated Sexual Assault (2nd degree), Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree), Two Counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (3rd degree), Two Counts of Attempted Distribution of Marijuana (4th degree), Possession of Marijuana (Disorderly Persons Offense).
2. Jason Berry, 40, of Keansburg, N.J. Unemployed.Arrested June 18.Manufacturing Child Pornography (1st degree), Sexual Assault (2nd degree), Child Abuse (2nd degree), Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Theft by Extortion (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
3. Alize Tejada, 21, of Newark, N.J. Babysitter.Arrested July 15.Aggravated Sexual Assault (1st degree), Manufacturing Child Pornography (1st degree).
4. Michael Gilpin, 42, of Union Beach, N.J. Pipe fitter.Arrested July 26.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
5. Raymond Radziewicz, 53, of Bloomfield, N.J. Former teaching assistant at child care center who was terminated as a result of this arrest.Arrested July 7.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
6. Brett Warfield, 21, of Carney’s Point, N.J. Private security guard.Arrested July 15.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
7. Loic Atse, 18, of Aberdeen, N.J. College student.Arrested July 23.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
8. Donovan Falconer, 25, of Plainsboro, N.J. Employee of marketing firm.Arrested June 25.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
9. Michael Ascough, 39, Pompton, N.J. Retail employee.Arrested July 5.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
10. Joseph Benestante, 65, of Bergenfield, N.J. Retired.Arrested July 21.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree).
11. Shawn Daily, 45, of Browns Mills, N.J. Laborer.Arrested June 12.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
12. Roy Dantz, 71, of Mount Laurel, N.J. Retired.Arrested June 18.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
13. Christopher Crispino, 45, of Bellmawr, N.J. Unemployed.Arrested July 31.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
14. Dwayne McCormick, 25, of Orange, N.J. Unemployed.Arrested July 8.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
15. Juvenile Male, 15, of Gloucester County, N.J. Unemployed.Arrested July 22.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
16. Julian Ceballos, 31, of Hamilton (Mercer County), N.J. Restaurant worker.Arrested June 26.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
17. Timothy McMahon, 46, of Piscataway, N.J. Electrician.Arrested May 21.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
18. Edward Kross, 66, of Carteret, N.J. Part-time firefighting instructor.Arrested May 28.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
19. Henry Ziolkowski, 66, of Toms River, N.J. Surgery technician.Arrested July 10.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
20. Kevin Carrierri, 34, of Toms River, N.J. Chef.Arrested July 10.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
21. Matthew Marzullo, 20, of Hopatcong, N.J. Restaurant food server.Arrested July 1.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three of five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Attorney General Grewal thanked the attorneys, detectives, and staff in the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau who worked on this operation under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jillian Carpenter, Deputy Bureau Chief Lilianne Daniel, and DCJ Deputy Director Robert Czepiel.
He thanked ICAC Task Force Commander Lt. John Pizzuro of the New Jersey State Police ICAC Unit and the detectives of the ICAC Unit, as well as the New Jersey State Police TEAMS and K-9 Units.
Attorney General Grewal thanked U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Newark and Cherry Hill, under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge Jason Molina and Assistant SAC Richard Reinhold.
He thanked the New Jersey State Parole Board, under the leadership of Chairman Samuel J. Plumeri Jr., for its valuable assistance with arrests and search warrants.
Finally, Attorney General Grewal thanked all of the prosecutors, detectives, investigators, and staff of the following county prosecutors’ offices, which participated as members of the ICAC Task Force:
Governor Also Announces $100 Million in Additional Funding to Help Schools Safely Reopen
August 26, 2020
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today visited Somerville High School to highlight state education funding in his revised Fiscal Year 2021 state budget proposal, which will remain steady from FY2020 despite the historic financial challenges New Jersey is facing due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In his revised budget proposal, which was unveiled on Tuesday, Governor Murphy announced that funding for school districts will remain consistent with the figures announced in July, keeping the state on track to fully fund public schools. Additionally, the revised budget proposal includes almost $68 million in new funds over FY2020 for preschools in New Jersey.Governor Murphy also announced $100 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) funding to ensure schools can reopen safely.“Supporting our public schools has been one of the bedrock priorities of my Administration, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed our commitment to our students, educators, and staff,” said Governor Murphy. “The pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for our schools, but I am proud that we can continue to support our districts, ensure the health and safety of students and school staff, and provide a high-quality education for all children. Together, we will weather these challenging times and build a state that is stronger, fairer, and more resilient.”“Considering the fiscal devastation that the pandemic has wrought, it is a remarkable achievement that we are proposing a budget that stabilizes school aid and allows for growth in programs to benefit our youngest learners,” said Kevin Dehmer, Interim Commissioner of Education.Fiscal 2021 Budget HighlightsThe Governor’s revised budget proposal for the 2020-2021 school year includes an additional $67.8 million in preschool education aid, for a total preschool allocation of $874.2 million. Of that increase, $10 million will go to expanding high-quality preschool programs into new school districts, with the remainder of the increase in preschool aid helping districts with existing preschool programs to expand to enroll additional students.Overall, the Governor’s spending plan would ensure school districts receive the same levels of funding that were announced in July. The budget proposal would continue the phase-in to full funding of the state’s public school system required by a recent law designed to address inequities that resulted from years of overfunding some districts while failing to adequately meet the needs of others.Governor Murphy and Interim Commissioner Dehmer discussed the education funding during a visit today to the Somerville School District, which would see a nearly 14 percent increase in preschool education aid from Fiscal 2020 for a total increase of $111,357, and a 3.5 percent increase in K-12 aid from the previous year for a total increase of $267,698. $100 Million for School ReopeningGovernor Murphy allocated $100 million in federal CRF funding to support school reopening. A district may use the funding to meet the health and safety standards that the Department of Education established in its school-reopening guidance, The Road Back. In addition, districts that already meet the health and safety protocols can use the funds to ensure continued satisfaction of those standards.Additional Budget Proposal HighlightsIn addition to stable state aid and growth in preschool education aid, the Governor’s budget plan includes the following increases:
$400,000 in funding to continue support for STEM Dual Enrollment and Early College High School funding, which led to the launch of P-TECH schools across New Jersey.
$800,000 for the Computer Science for All initiative to support the goal of increasing student access to cutting-edge computer science instruction.
$750,000 to continue the Minority Teacher Development Grants designed to diversify the teacher pipeline. (The grants are referred to as the “High Poverty School District Minority Teacher Recruitment Program” in the budget.) Research says that a diverse teaching workforce benefits all children; however, 56 percent of New Jersey’s students are children of color while only 16 percent of New Jersey’s educators are teachers of color.
Additional information on district allocations of state aid is available on the Department of Education’s School Finance webpage.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–It is reported that Governor Phil Murphy will make an announcement that gyms will be allowed to reopen on September 1, 2020 and face masks will be required while working out. Expect further details to be released soon.