In an effort to bridge the fiscal gap in the Lakewood School District, Board of Education officials are exploring as many options as possible, Board of Education President Isaac Zlatkin tells TLS. One of those options, is by reviving a 1997 lawsuit which could land Lakewood with some additional funds.
In December 1997, twenty rural and property-poor school districts, including Lakewood (the Bacon Districts)–as distinguished from the poor urban Abbott school districts–filed a Court complaint against the Department of Education, the Commissioner of Education, and several state officials, seeking a ruling that the State’s school funding law was unconstitutional because it resulted in inadequate funding based upon their poverty levels. The districts won a series of rulings by the courts and the State Board of Education and the case was a driving force for the state’s current School Funding Reform Act (SFRA).
That law was enacted under former Gov. Jon Corzine as a way to get more funding to districts with high levels of poverty but not falling under Abbott vs. Burke.
“Unfortunately, Lakewood and the other Bacon districts did not get anything for their win and protracted litigation,” Says Zlatkin. “Therefore, the Education Law Center, one of the parties in the case, is now seeking to revive the case in light of the fact that the State has not complied with any of the mandates that resulted from the case.”
The Education Law Center is holding a meeting on July 15 with the original Bacon districts to explore the options.
“The superintendent Ms. Winters, board attorney Mr. Zitomer and I will be attending a meeting and will report back to the Board with our options,” Zlatkin says. [TLS]