Lakewood: Understanding LSTA Being Hired by BOE to Bus Private School Students

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Lakewood, NJ – After months of confusion that began after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy struck legislation to support a busing consortium while passing a budget this year, all the pieces seem to have fallen in place for busing to continue for all private school students in Lakewood.

While the Lakewood Student Transportation Authority, or the LSTA, is no longer a state-contracted consortium, it was hired by the Lakewood Board of Education to handle all nonpublic transportation. This was concluded after the LSTA submitted the only offers after a call for bids was put out. The LSTA presented three proposals, and the BOE chose the one they deemed most cost effective for the district.

The LSTA will continue to operate as before, though as a district-contracted consortium. It will charge the district $1,000 for each student entitled to free transportation – equal to the amount generally paid in aid-in-lieu – and it will charge parents of children not eligible for free transportation to supply them with courtesy busing. This will allow students who live too close to their schools to still get busing, albeit at a fee, and thus prevent the traffic and logistical nightmare that would ensue should widespread carpooling be needed.

The BOE also voted to remove the previously approved ballot referendum asking for a tax increase to cover courtesy busing for public and private schools, as well as after-school clubs for public schools and special education programs for private schools. Earlier this year, the township had implied that it will no longer supply a grant for these expenditures, but the Board of Education agenda implies that the township is ready to supply the funds. According to the BOE, these funds are coming from a surplus from previous grants and from new grants approved by the township.

Mayor Ray Coles previously said that funds to cover special education services for private schools would be allocated from Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) collected from certain businesses, which were earmarked for the cause by the township.

{D. Stein-Matzav.com Newscenter}

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