There may be a resolution for busing crisis in Lakewood, NJ, reports Shannon Mullen in the Asbury Park Press, providing busing for about 10,000 students for a lot less than the $6.2 million tax levy roundly rejected in a January 26 referendum.
Mullen reports that the agreement would require the Township Committee to give the school district $2.5 million in surplus funds, $1.5 million above its previous commitment.
Mullen says that the proposal raises questions as to why local taxpayers were asked to pay $6.2 million for the busing.
The school district mailed letters to parents that courtesy busing – busing for elementary school students who live within two miles of their schools and high school students who live 2-½ miles from their schools – will end effective February 26.
Parents are concerned about the safety of their children walking to school. 7,100 private school students will be left without busing. On the public school side, over 2,700 students won’t have busing.
At a meeting Thursday night, school officials said that there is virtually no possibility for the busing cut to be halted. The officials explained the nature of the budget deficit and said by the end of the current school year, the Lakewood school district will have a deficit of over $12 million due to a flaw in the state funding formula.
However, former school board attorney Michael I. Inzelbuch announced last week that he would sue the district to stop cancelling the busing after February 26.
Inzelbuch told the Press that emails he has reviewed demonstrate that incorrect information was given to State Monitor Michael Azzara, who said that $6.2 million is needed; in truth, only $2.5 million is.
Mullen says that Inzelbuch is accusing district officials of purposely misleading the public. The matter should be investigated “civilly and criminally,” he told the Press. “It was never 6.2 (million),” Inzelbuch said. “We were lied to.
D. Patelnik – Matzav.com / Photo: Matzav.com