Lakewood, NJ – Today, Lakewood Mayor Isaac Akerman, members of the Lakewood Board of Education, and district and state officials signed an agreement to restore busing for public and private school students, as first reported here on Matzav.com.
According to the agreement, all regular pupils, grades K- 12, with mileage under a half-mile from school will not receive busing, the same arrangement as last year. All pupils in grade K-12 who would have to travel more than a half-mile to school will be bussed.
“This is a great thing for Lakewood that we could resolve this issue,” said Mayor Akerman. “If there were no agreement, it would be very taxing on the township because of the safety and traffic issues it would create, not to mention the confusion. We are trying to go in the other direction by taking traffic off the roads, keeping our children safe, and preventing the expense of hiring crossing guards. Of course, the safety of our children is our number one priority.
“I am grateful to Committeeman Lichtenstein, the schools, the district, Aaron Kotler of BMG, the Senior Action Group, Mike Azzara, and everyone who worked to make this happen.”
Isaac Zlatkin, Lakewood board of education member and former president, said, “After many months of being consumed with trying to find any possible way to ensure that the children of Lakewood will be provided with courtesy busing, the Board is relieved that an agreement has been finally reached. Like with last year’s agreement, the heroes in the deal that was struck are the nonpublic schools who are making a difficult and costly adjustment to their schedules in order that all children of Lakewood will be provided with courtesy transportation to and from school.”
Laura Winters, Superintendent of the Lakewood Schools, expressed her satisfaction with the agreement. She said, “I am both excited and proud that the district, nonpublic school administrators, state and township officials, along with the community leaders were able to come together to resolve the courtesy busing issue. The students of Lakewood deserve the best, and were the focus of all discussions. Working together, the educational and safety goals of all communities have been met, with a respect that should be commended by all.”
Township Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein said, “Now that the busing issue has been resolved for this year, we must work diligently to plan for the future of our vibrant, growing town. I am happy to report that discussions have begun in this regard.”
Zlatkin agreed. He said, “At this point, everyone recognizes that the nonpublic schools exhausted all of the operational efficiencies possible in order to make this deal work; therefore, because we will inevitably be in the same predicament next year given our growing community, it is not too early to start directing our attention to securing additional funding from the State which finally accounts for the fact that Lakewood is a unique and rapidly growing community.
“I together with other board members have had discussions with State Monitor Azzara, and I am pleased that he has committed to go to Trenton and attend budget committee meetings to raise concern about the finances of Lakewood and our dire need for additional State aid.”