Lakewood: 99 Percent of Voters Reject Bussing Referendum, Thousands Left Without School Transportation


Yesterday, voters in Lakewood, NJ, almost unanimously rejected a $6.2 million courtesy busing referendum, with nearly 99 percent against it, triggering the cancellation of bus service for about 10,000 schoolchildren.

In Lakewood, only 108 voters (1.41 percent) supported the tax levy. 7,561 (98.59 percent) voted against it. There were 521 mail-in ballots.

Askanim, led by the Igud Hamosdos, encouraged voters to cast their ballots against the additional school tax levy. The Board of Education was also against it.

Officials have long argued, as explained to, that the latest crisis du jour just masks the underlying issues facing Lakewood, one of the few districts in the country where the number of private school students far exceeds their public school peers. State funding is doled out based on criteria that places an inordinate amount of weight on the number of public school students per district. While that formula works well for most areas, Lakewood, with its 5:1 private/public ratio, is an anomaly. Without correcting that more important state funding issue, Lakewood’s finances will always teeter on the precipice of insolvency.

In a PowerPoint presentation released by the district in advance of yesterday’s vote, the school board laid out the circumstances that led to the current shortfall. For the most part, the overarching reason for the deficit is much higher transportation costs.

While a handful of bus routes came in with lower costs for the 2015-16 school year, was told that the vast majority came in at a higher price point, with some routes increasing by over 50%.

The causes for the higher prices are many, but the board advanced three reasons:

  • In an effort to work with approximately 100 nonpublic schools on tiered schedules, which was anticipated to save the district money, the transportation bidding process was started extremely late. Indeed, the deal between the board and State Monitor Michael Azzarra, which was a prerequisite to the bidding process, was only concluded in August.
  • One of the bus contractors, who had done business in Lakewood in the past, left the township and no longer does business with the school district.
  • Due to the late bidding, many bus vendors made other plans for the upcoming school year, and allocated their available resources to other municipalities. By the time Lakewood came calling, many companies were unwilling to divert their busses to some local unpopular routes.

Now, those chickens have come home to roost.

With Lakewood voters having rejected the tax levy placed in front of them yesterday, over 9,800 students will be left without transportation and will be forced to make alternate arrangements.

This now sets the stage for complete havoc on Lakewood’s already congested roads. Starting February 25, thousands of children will have to walk or be driven to school.

{Simmy Newscenter}


  1. Our children live over 5 miles from their respective schools. Many of Lakewood’s schools have relocated to non-residential areas. Thank you though for your kind suggestion.

  2. Better this way. Government/Counties N E V E R use the tax money the way they “promise” they will, NEVER!!! They always give some excuse as to why it was spent elsewhere.
    More power to the people.

  3. New Jersey has approximately six hundred school districts. The entire state of Maryland gets along perfectly well with just 24. Consolidate!