Look below you’ll see a clip from a June 2015 Lakewood Board of Education meeting. At this meeting, State Fiscal Monitor Michael Azzara announced that, due to pushback from the Mosdos, which represent Lakewood yeshivas, the district will no longer provide courtesy busing to any Lakewood student, public or private. Why? The previous year the Mosdos agreed to a small pilot program that sought to cut transportation costs, which last year ran to about $30 million, almost 20% of Lakewood’s total operating budget of $164,765,432. That pilot program took several yeshivas (not sure how many), had them tier start times and end times for school days, co-mingled boys and girls on buses as well as students from different yeshivas, and limited private ultra-Orthodox schools to one pick-up and one drop-off a day.
If the pilot program were expanded, Lakewood taxpayers (not to mention state taxpayers) would save money. But in this letter to the Board of Education, the Mosdos declined to participate:
Regretfully, at this time, we would like to inform you that we are not able to expand the 2014/15 Tiering Plan into the coming school year as proposed. Educating our students is our first and foremost priority and needs to be accomplished properly and be inherent in tranquility. Disruption to the daily schedules of over 25,000 students, tens of thousands of parents and several thousand teachers is not something that would further that goal.
Bussing for all students is a necessity for safety and proper education. Therefore, last year we agreed to try the Tiering Pilot Program with the understanding that it will be of value to our students. In actuality, after its implementation, it reduced the amount of children who benefitted.
The proposed idea for the coming school year further affects the transportation of many more students. This combination of the loss of transportation to so many more students and the drastic restructuring of almost every nonpublic school’s schedule will affect the way we educate our students. The sacrifice is too great in comparison to what we are receiving.
Please also understand that most of the schools that agreed to the tiering last year will most likely not continue to do so as they will change their schedule back to begin class at 9:00 AM.
We truly appreciate all that was done to try and make it work. We have tried our utmost to allow the proposed changes to create a positive turnaround to our transportation, regretfully it did not work. We thank you for your understanding.
Um, thanks for nothing. Lakewood Public Schools is fiscally incapable of coming up with the $30 million and so two weeks ago Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet passed them a cool $36 million (after the Legislature erased a $30 million gift from Gov. Murphy in his proposed budget).
Your taxes at work.
And so Lakewood’s public students get up before dawn — and arrive at school unready to learn — while yeshiva kids get to start school at a reasonable hour. (See here for details on a NJ pilot program that studies the impact of later start times on teenagers’ academic growth.) How again does the Board of Education/Michael Inzelbuch rationalize the second-class status of its struggling students?
You got me.