Examining Budget Shortfalls
A Lakewood Board of Education member continues to voice support for preserving courtesy busing in the Township but also for taking a closer look at budget shortfalls.
A state monitor cut courtesy busing for students grades 4-12 living within 2.5 miles of schools, a move intended to save four million dollars from the 2014-2015 budget.
However Lakewood Board of Education member Chaim Rosenblatt said the transportation budget was unnecessarily gutted for the cuts.
“The issue is beyond transportation, the issue is deeper than transportation. The year before that we were balanced and we go into the school year with a five million dollar deficit.”
Proponents of the cuts have suggested Lakewood fund the courtesy busing through other means, either tax increases, fees to parents using the service, or donation.
Rosenblatt opposes those measures because he feels it only pushes the inevitable problem down the road.
“If someone somehow miraculously writes a check [for the four million dollars] I don’t want to be in this position next year, there has to be a system that makes sense.”
While it’s called “courtesy” busing, Rosenblatt believes it’s far more vital to the community than many understand.
“This town, the way it is situation with the amount of kids in close proximity and the dangerous nature of the streets, cannot function in a safe environment without this transportation.”
Currently 10,450 students in Lakewood use courtesy busing, over eight thousands of whom attend private schools according to district documents.
Of the approximately 10,450 students who now use courtesy busing, more than 8,100 attend private schools, according to district documents.
While Rosenblatt believes more oversight needs to be had over the budget to make sure money isn’t wasted or left on the table, he also thinks the township is under budgeted.
“I think the state has to be honest with themselves and say hey we’re not getting the funds that any other district would see with the amount of kids.”