UPDATE: Sources confirm the Lakewood Township will take over busing responsibilities which the LTSA used to take care of. This will include standard busing as well as courtesy busing. This is exactly what GL said a week ago “The township did receive a loan, so it should not be complex for the LSTA to rename itself and to continue it’s work – with funds from the loan.”
In March, Lakewood was scheduled to receive $30 Million in state aid. $15 Million was allocated from the state’s school funding to help cover transportation and special education costs. This would have funded the LSTA For another year. The other $15 million was to go for provisional stabilization aid.
At the time, Board of Education attorney, Michael I. Inzelbuch said, “We thank the state for recognizing the uniqueness of Lakewood.”
In the end, the budget passed without providing any State funds to Lakewood. The LSTA will not be renewed. Lots of drama ensued and motions were filed.
A week ago, GL reported that the Lakewood school district will be receiving $36 million in state aid from the School District Relief account in the form of a loan.
This loan will be repaid over 10 years in annual payments of $3.6 million beginning the 2020/21 school year.
There are two significant issues:
Firstly, the LSTA – a quasi-government organization which took care of busing – and courtesy busing, is no longer in existence thanks to Governor Murphy who cut it from the budget.
Kids within 2 miles from school (2.5 for high school) are not eligible for funding and need to carpool or walk. Previously the LSTA arranged courtesy busing at a minimal cost without LTSA this becomes a real issue.
The State allocates money to school districts based on the number of children enrolled in Public school. While the state only covers the Public school students they require the school districts to fund busing for both private and public schools. In Lakewood, roughly 85% of children are in private school while only receiving funding for 15% of the children.
The township did receive a loan, so it should not be complex for the LSTA to rename itself and to continue it’s work – with funds from the loan.
The second big issue is after-school programs. The State deemed after-school programs as not necessary for a ‘thorough and efficient’ education. Therefore the loan cannot be used on them. If it were, the entire loan will be disqualified.
The superintendent, Attorney Inzelbach, and multiple teachers are big advocates of after-school programs.
The total cost of courtesy busing and after-school programs is $6.1 Million dollars.
At last nights Board of Education meeting, a referendum was approved. The proposal would pay for after-school programs as well as courtesy busing.
If the proposal is approved by the voters it would cost the average homeowner $203 – this figure is based off an average home of roughly 300K. Since many homes, are new construction, they are assessed at purchase price, at $550K the new tax would be closer to $400 per household.
The tax increase would hit all homeowners. Those who are more than 2 miles from the school, the elderly, families with no kids in school, and houses where the kids walk to school.
If the proposal is voted down, there will be a ‘bus and after-school crisis.’
It remains unclear why the proposal puts busing and after-school programs together. GreaterLakewood spoke with multiple residents who said they would vote pro busing but against after-school programs.
Some speculate the only way to get after-school programs approved, is to pair it with busing. In congress, they refer to this as a ‘rider.’