A last-ditch vote on a bill that would change how transportation is funded for thousands of private school students yeshivos in Lakewood, NJ, is expected in the New Jersey Assembly on Thursday, the final day of the legislative session for this fiscal year, the Asbury Park Press reports.
The legislation, creating a three-year pilot program exclusively for Lakewood, was prompted by the school district’s cancellation of “courtesy” or nonmandated bus service for the 2016-17 school year. The cost-saving move that would leave some 7,000 private school children and 3,000 public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade without busing come September.
Public school busing at stake, too. Under an agreement brokered with Lakewood’s local officials and state legislators, if the measure passes, the Township Committee has pledged to pick up the cost of courtesy busing for public school students.
“No matter how you slice it, Lakewood is growing and there are more children entering school every year,” Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, the head of the Igud Hamosdos, the council of local yeshiva leaders, told the Asbury Park Press in an email. “The only real issue is, do we try to solve this mess – at least for three years – or do we get into another round of putting Lakewood’s children and parents through the muddy swamp again and again and again?”
In effect, all private school students would have busing for the next three years. Public school children who don’t qualify for mandated transportation would keep their busing, too, at the township’s expense, said Township Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein. Read the full report at Asbury Park Press.