Lakewood, NJ – A proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year eliminates courtesy busing, slashes 68 teaching positions and cancels all middle school sports and clubs, among other draconian measures aimed at closing a projected $12 million deficit, reports Shannon Mullen for THE ASBURY PARK PRESS.
The district’s team of state monitors, led by Michael Azzara, crafted the nearly $172.5 million budget plan to dig out of a mounting deficit. The shortfall is tied to sharp increases in mandated transportation and out-of-district special-education costs that haven’t been offset by any significant increase in state aid.
While the school board is expected to vote against the proposed budget at a public hearing set for May 11, Azzara can override the vote.
At a special school board meeting Monday night, both the school board and Schools Superintendent Laura A. Winters distanced themselves from the spending plan, and called on the New Jersey Department of Education to provide the district with a greater level of state aid.
Winters called the budget “tragically inadequate” and said its impact on students would be “devastating.”
The teacher cuts represent a 9 percent reduction in teaching staff and would lead to a dramatic increase in class size, to up to 39 children per class in kindergarten through 12th grade, she said.
Read the full report at THE ASBURY PARK PRESS.