BREAKING: Lakewood School District crumbling, frightening letter to State indicates

[LETTER BELOW] The Lakewood School District in severe financial distress and in need of emergency assistance, the District Superintendent indicated in a frightening letter sent to the State as the new budget was released.

In the letter, the Superintendent says the proposed budget would mean over 100 staff members are expected to be terminated, students will be losing programs, and much more.

Superintendent Winters in her letter wrote, “It is with great sadness that I must inform you that the Lakewood School District is unable to provide its students with a “thorough and efficient” education required by the New Jersey State Constitution. The level of education that will be offered to the students of the Lakewood School District in the 2017-2018 school year, is in my professional opinion, tragically inadequate and inferior compared to the education offered to those students in wealthier towns in Ocean County and across the state.”

She added, “The District must deal with a number of new expenditures and significantly less revenue, such as, but not limited to, the following;

 The absence of a $5.6 million State Aid Advance/Revenue

 Repayment installment for the above advance

 Repayment of significant federal and state audit refunds which had been deferred in past years $1,099,531

 The tuition for a newly approved charter school $2,128,493

 The consortium’s busing cost for the increase in mandated nonpublic school students despite flat funding in State Transportation Aid and overall State Aid for the District. $1,895,728

 Increase in Health Benefits $2,821,605

 Increase in Salaries $2,561,333

 Increase in Tuition $525,357

 Increase to School Base Budget to Title 1 Reduction $735, 045

 Transportation Less Salaries and LSTA $686,793

 Net Changes to the Balance of the Budget $10,692

In order to cover the above, the Lakewood School District will be losing approximately 119 members of its certified teaching staff, creating average class sizes of 50 (K-12). Students throughout the district will no longer have the opportunity to participate in sports programs or after-school clubs and activities.

Summer Bridge programs that have helped our students’ transition from Elementary School to Middle School and from Middle School to High School will be eliminated. Lakewood High School’s summer school program will be abolished, leaving disadvantaged students unable to make -up course credits, in order to obtain their high school diploma.

In a district with few administrators, and close to 50 students in a class, there will no longer be guidance counselors in the Elementary Schools to assist those students who struggle with behavioral and emotional problems associated with children being raised in poverty. Research shows that poverty in childhood and adolescence is associated with a higher risk for poor cognitive and academic outcomes, lower school attendance, lower reading and math test scores, increased distractibility, and higher rates of grade failure and early high school dropout.”


Board Attorney Marc Zitomer says this is very disturbing, and calls on the State to step in.

“It is very disturbing that the Lakewood School District once again finds itself with a significant budget deficit after having presented a balance budget for this school year,” Zitomer said. “This again demonstrates that that Lakewood is grossly underfunded by the State of New Jersey and that we do not have a fiscal mismanagement problem given that there are three State monitors in Lakewood who have been in the District for several years. Until the State properly funds Lakewood given its unique population, the District will continue to find itself in the untenable position of having to cut programs and staff to balance its budget. The entire Lakewood community needs to unite and address this pressing issue with its local legislators and the Governor. ”

Upon viewing the letter, former Board Attorney Michael Inzelbuch says all of Lakewood will suffer from this fallout.

Enough. Soon no one will be able to live in Lakewood,” Inzelbuch said. “Taxes so high and no public school system. Remember, without a good public school system, we all suffer. For example, now that there is a charter school the district, more than ever, needs to be competitive. This year alone, the new charter school and skimmed off about $2.4 million from all of our kids.”

He added, “I don’t get it. I reviewed some of the Budget and see a million or so being paid for Audits to State. Why? Check the record -when Neva and Kathy and I were there – no monies were paid by any matter we appealed. The only monies provided were by Catapult or other vendors to the State, and even then it was reduced by millions. Ask the current counsel and Barry Iann why? Why are vendors being allowed to make the audit exceptions and not held accountable? Why are the exceptions not being challenged?”

As to getting more state money, “Cmon,” Inzelbuch said. “25 plus years I’ve been hearing this. The one opportunity we had with SEMI reimbursement – worth millions – we were litigating in court and in 2012 new counsel then decided it wasn’t worth the time. Aggressive approach is needed towards Trenton – and I have news for you -I bet the Monitor would join in IF he had a Board and counsel he could work with.”

“Lastly, we need real board leadership and legal prowess – one that backs up threats and has the legal know-how and background. Enough of the “let me see what I can do with our kids’ lives and educational system.”

Superintendent Winters stated at the recent meeting that she will not be certifying the budget. No motion to approve it was made, and they are expected to adopt a revised budget during the next meeting.

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    • Really? come on make the bureachrats responsible, not the home owners. I went to lakewood HS for two years 94-96 and the education was highly lacking then, but this is insane. Additionally what will happen next year? They need to scrap or revamp the entire district.

      • To Kim: I couldn’t disagree with you more. I went to Lakewood High School from ’96 to ’00 and received an excellent education! Not only was I fully prepared for college but I also gained skills and abilities for life in the real world. Even back then funding wasn’t what it should have been but my parents and I were involved and stayed on top of things to make sure I got the best education possible, i.e. by taking honors courses and participating in extracurricular activities.
        My parents and grandparents also attended Lakewood public schools and even though it was quite sometime ago they all loved the education they received.

  1. For the first time ever they cant use cutting courtesy bussing as a tactic to get support for increasing taxes and referendums. Lets see how the public school population reacts when they begin to lose the non mandated programs. Maybe each public school parents can pay $150 to participate in the after school programs?

  2. As someone looking in from the outside, it would seem to me that the Lakewood Public School system has not been properly serving the needs of their largely Hispanic and low-income student body long before this “crisis”. The cost of serving this demographic almost exclusively (whereby the goal is to see them as competitors in the work-force) is in my opinion unrealistic without a HUGE amount of State funding or an overhaul of the current system. To compare it to “wealthier” towns is comparing apples and oranges. In my humble opinion the best solution is to model the education for this demographic after the rest of Lakewood’s private schools – that is to have members from within those communities create a system from the ground up that will mainstream many students and eliminate the need for so many special programs. For the past 15 years the Lakewood BOE has been scotch taping the system and maybe this should be seen as a wake-up call.

  3. To put what #8 said bluntly Maybe if all the iIlegals in the school that don’t pay taxes are kicked out, there would not be a funding issue. Do you realize that most of the taxpaying people in Lakewood that do not use the public school are paying for students that are not even supposed to be here! Free Money!!!

  4. If anyone wants to enroll in public school en masse, I’m SURE the community will be heard. Make the calculation- 35,000 kids, at 11,000 a head. – The state will balk and cough up the money we really need and deserve to avoid this. The alternative is that New Jersey would go bankrupt trying to cover that tab. (about 385 million dollars.)

  5. Perhaps the BOE should shift the approximate THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS that our community approved in the September 30, 2014 referendum towards the fancy state-of-the-art and very-expensive HVAC systems for all the public school buildings…

    Basically, my argument is that in light of the precarious circumstance the district is currently situated in, we should (and yes, we do have the legal authority for this) to immediately reconsider utilizing the set-aside funds for the more critical needs instead of the un-necessary and expensive to maintain HVAC systems.

  6. un-necessary h vac systems lol i graduated lakewood highschool in 06 and did middle school as a lakewood resident as well. i can tell you that siting in a classroom thats close to 100 degress f is not conducive to learning. and to the rest above 12 illegals contribute to taxes in the form of spending money around town and growing a secondary economy that only rivals the secular jewish makeup of this town. not to mention they pay rent on the places they reside that in turns make most of our towns jewish landlords a profit no matter the taxes on said property. and also those illegals everyone cares to so conveniently bring up, maybe they arent paying “taxes” may it be federal or state and that may have a trickle down effect in a town so diverse as lakewood… but you do realize they are using someone else’s or a fact ss number to be employed? so they are paying into social security, unemployment and so many other safety nets that they can never use?

  7. The issue isn’t legal or illegal. These are people living here and so, is it right to deny them an education when they reside here??? As long as the state passively allows their residence and employment, the state bears the burden of educating these children. Just imagine these children grow up, earn a scholarship to attend college and write an essay [in English] “How we made it to college in spite of the state underfunded public elementary school” ?

  8. Yes. They do live in houses and pay rent to landlords that pay taxes. However, a home that would normally have 2-4 school age children may have upwards of 10-12.

  9. How do most school district run so well ? I’ve never heard of so many problems in one district. Why would NJ state government keep bailing out the school district….where is the money ?

  10. If only Lakewood had been more inclusive of illegal aliens & religious minority’s this could of all been avoided.

    How is that southern border wall sounding now Lakewood?

  11. To # 12 @ TG :

    You’re absolutely correct. I would love to nominate you to the BOE.

    Those super expensive HVAC systems are a luxury this district can ill afford. My classmates and myself made it just fine through our school years without having such comforts.. and yes it did get very hot in our classrooms and all the rest that comes along with that.

    Sure, it would be nice to have an expensive central air conditioned environment in every inch of every building BUT WE CANNOT AFFORD THIS LUXURY. It never was, nor is it currently, a requirement for a thorough and efficient education.

    People should re-acquaint themselves with the exorbitantly expensive costs of purchasing and installing these very fancy systems. And let’s not forget the added financial burden we will be forced to pay to in electric bills to keep these huge systems running, and the pricey upkeep expenditures in regular maintenance.

    Let’s make sure we take care of the legitimate priorities before we pay heavy monies for these other extras, which we simply cannot afford!!

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