EDGEWATER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The future of the Edgewater School District will be decided by voters this November.

They’ll have to decide between raising taxes or undergoing drastic cuts to education, CBS2’s Kevin Rincon reported.

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Tables and chairs were stacked up inside one classroom inside the Eleanor Van Gelder School on Monday. The hallways were eerily quiet, as teachers worked with students virtually.

Schools: The New Normal

In order for things to go back to normal, the district is need of money.

“If things are bad in other districts, it’s 10 times worse in Edgewater,” said Asal Shakeri of the Save Our Schools Campaign.

That’s because the town had a budget shortfall before the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is the heart of Edgewater and hard to see that this heart is not beating, and it’s hard to think that we don’t do anything and everything just to bring that back to our community,” Shakeri said.

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To try and do that her group is pushing for a tax hike to be decided on by voters, an effort to raise nearly $5.9 million.

For now, lockers remain empty with kids not in attendance. When they will return will depend on the ballot proposal.

“Our plea is not to take this for granted and help us to resolve this matter, not just in the short term but in the long run,” parent Victoria Kar said.

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Kar is a mother of two — one in kindergarten and the other in third grade.

“A lot of parents are sacrificing their work to be able to accommodate their children,” Kar said.

She’s asking everyone to share in that sacrifice by voting “Yes” this November to a 10% property tax hike. That would raise the average tax bill by almost $1,000.

“We really need some long-term cure for this town or we’re not going to survive,” Shakeri said.

The money would help reduce class size, it would bring back full-day kindergarten, and would restore free busing.

“After January, if we don’t get the vote passed, if we don’t get enough ‘Yes,’ no, we’re gonna go back to Stage 1, which is not a good place to be,” Shakeri said.

At the moment there isn’t even enough money to try and bring kids back to the classroom.

If the measure passes, it will be a permanent tax increase.

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