Lakewood's school system is $4 million in the red and, according to
media reports, planning to seek help from county and state taxpayers to
make up the shortfall.
The school district, which is responsible
for educating about 5,500 students in its six public schools, also
provides busing for 19,000 students in 103 private schools, the Associated Press reported this week.
matters is the fact that the large Orthodox Jewish community buses male
and female students separately, yet most of the students are dismissed
at the same time, requiring more buses since the two genders do not ride
together. The $4 million shortfall has mainly been caused by an influx
in over 5,700 additional private school students over last year,
according to the AP report.
According to state law, school
districts that bus their regular education students to public schools
are required to provide transportation to nonpublic schools less than 20
miles away, as long as the student lives at least 2.5 or 2 miles or
farther away from the nonpublic school, depending on their grade level.
of education, at their own discretion and expense, may adopt policies
transportation for nonpublic school students who are not otherwise
eligible for transportation, according to documentation obtained from
the state Department of Education.
But will Ocean County or state
taxpayers be on the hook for a bailout of Lakewood's district and its
unique transportation requirements?
The answer is unclear, according to state officials.
New Jersey Department of Education is open to dialogue on this matter,"
Michael Yaple, spokesman for the Department of Education, said in an
e-mail to Patch. "We stand ready to discuss the situation with local
school officials, and come up with solutions. Until we have those
discussions, it would be premature to publicly speculate what could or
The case of a school district being unable to meet
its financial obligations is a rare one, especially since New Jersey
districts are required to pass a balanced budget each year.
In four cases, the state has taken over from local school boards and assumed control of the Newark, Paterson, Jersey City and Camden school districts.