Lakewood Children Should Count; In Response To ‘Inappropriate Spending’

By A. Lang. Professor Michael Hoban recently called for a task force to examine Lakewood per student spending which is “59% greater than in Jackson.” A comparison of how the state and federal governments counts students and a comparison between Lakewood and Jackson with respect to both sovereigns illustrates why Lakewood has to spend so much more than any other district in the nation.

Lakewood services 27,000 children. This number consists of 22,000 students who receive part-time education including special education and remedial services, materials and transportation, and 5,252 full-time students who attend our physical plant.

If you look at federal entitlements, which do not discriminate against Lakewood citizens, and compare the 2011 appropriation for Lakewood with that of Jackson, a wealthier town, Jackson received $3,010,223 and Lakewood received $29,211,342. This partially can be explained Lakewood’s lack of wealth. However, if we compare the equalization aid mandated by theRobinson and Abbott decisions under the New Jersey Constitution, decisions whose very purpose were to provide extra aid to districts with lower wealth and income, we find the opposite. Jackson received $42,299,025 compared to Lakewood’s $14,793,805.

Furthermore, when we divide Jackson’s state equalization aid into its 9,324 students, it gets $4,537 per student. When we divide Lakewood’s state equalization aid into its 5,252 students its gets $2,817 each. Lakewood, in the second lowest socio-economic district factor group, is too wealthy to receive adequate state equalization aid for the amount of children that the state of New Jersey counts.

Additionally, the state discriminates against Lakewood children in its special education funding. New Jersey does not fund districts per student actually receiving special education services. It funds districts based on 14.69% of the total preexisting public school population in determining funding for special education. But, the federal Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act requires “find and evaluation” for all 22,000 private school students. Although Lakewood has to offer Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to 27,000 children, New Jersey only allocates funds based on 14.69% of the 5,252 students that the state counts.

The district actually classified 4,322 students with Individual Educational Plans, a number just shy of 82% of the total number of students that the state recognizes. This number is substantially more than the 772 (14.69% of 5,252) that the state funds. If parents of 300 of the 3,547 private students eligible for special education services in Lakewood opt for full-time FAPE, becoming full-time public school students, a reasonable number that is close to the actual number, the number of special education students in the district increases 39% to 1,072. Since the state counts only 14.69% of the 300 new students, funding increases to adequately provide for only 43 of the students, a total amount adequate for only 815 students. The local board must meet the expense of the extra 254 students, most of whom are the most expensive of the 3,547 students found by the district in compliance with federal law to need services.

The reason why Lakewood has high expenses is that the state does not owe up to its fair share. It does not count the 22,000 students in its funding formula. It does not count the kids when considering Lakewood’s local fair share in determining per student equalization aid. And even when some of our children opt for FAPE, becoming full-time public school students, it takes seven Lakewood kids to bring in the amount of special education funding that one special education student brings to Jackson. To add insult to injury, the intelligence of Lakewood taxpayers is then humiliated in the state school report card because the ratio of Lakewood spending to the discriminatory count that does not count their children in state funding exceeds that of other districts.

The Lakewood School Board is also to blame for not taking advantage of Option Two in the state administrative code which allows delivery of alternative education. Option Two students are counted by the state as registered for full state funding. A substantial number of the 22,000 students want an authentic education but are denied accommodation for their only opportunity for credit and a diploma, which can be made available to them through the district’s distance education program, currently offered to Lakewood High School students. This denial of educational access to the children of the citizens of Lakewood is the greatest civil rights issue of our time.

All of Lakewood’s children need education, whether they attend the physical plant of our district school or use our services. For some of these children, the services they receive from the district are their only chance for education

I used the data for 2011 found at: and

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  1. Very well written, unfortunately the new Superintendent or Board members will read this article. Its business as usual

  2. There is something unfortunate going on in Lakewood! Easy for people who don’t have children who are personally affected to say be positive. When one feels so chocked that they need to move to Brooklyn to get an appropriate education for there child it is hard!

  3. Actually, I know of many families that actually moved to Lakewood to get services. Can you believe it? Families are actually moving HERE to Lakewood to get free services, paid for by me, a hardworking taxpayer, and my taxes have to go up to pay for these people.

  4. I know most will not agree with me on this but I will say it anyway: the public education system in this town, state and country is provided for ALL to use. If you choose not to use it you are free to do so, but it is a choice. Obviously Lakewood’s population is unique, the majority choose not to use the free public education that is provided. But people still want the government’s money- after all it’s their taxes paying for it. People want the government to fund the alternative they chose over the free option that was already provided. I mean no disrespect, but I truly do not understand how anyone can expect to have it both ways.

  5. #5, what’s so hard to understand? Why is it that there is only one free option? Every parent should have the right to choose their child’s education. Why should the goverment decide how to educate my child with my tax dollars? Vouchers are the true democratic way.

  6. #6 is 100% absolutely correct. Start charging the parents of the public school and see how many kids would be able to attend. Vouchers are the way to go.

  7. You missed the point. We are not asking for ‘state’ support of religion. We are asking for equal support for our children’s secular education. And special education. And transportation. And secular textbooks. In short we are asking for equal protection under law. For equal educational opportunities. Same as every other citizen. We pay our equal share of taxes, are we not entitled to equalized funding of our children’s education? Mr Lang is right. Do away with the discrimination masquerading behind ‘separation of church and state.

    All the children are equal. Treat them accordingly.

  8. Conversely, why should MY tax dollars go to a private school? The private school is trying to make a profit and do not have to adhere to the same rules as a public school.

    Here’s another thought- plenty of people in this country choose another free option that is available to everyone. Homeschooling. No one is forced to pay for school in this country. There are options.

  9. to #5. I’ll break it down for you. We pay taxes to educate our children. We do not have a say in curriculum (that’s called taxation without representation), we therefore choose different schools for our children than the state run schools. We want our tax money in the form of school vouchers. If not than explain how you are going to make public school available for ALL private school kids in lakewood. The numbers won’t add up and you will not be able to give us what we are entitled to by law. so just give us our money and we’ll decide how to spend it thank you.

  10. I’m no fan of the public school system and a big fan of vouchers but in fairness I have to admit that (1)Being that the public schools accept everyone they receive public support.If the public schools would be considerably weakened in favor of private schools that have the right to reject any student they want the whole concept of public education would be meaningless (2)The precedent and status quo has always been the current system.It isn’t so simple to demand it be changed

  11. The state guarantees EVERY child a public education, paid for by its citizens. It’s your choice to send your children there or to pay additional to go to a private school. A voucher system is a politician’s way of pandering for your vote, taking the easy way out instead of facing the hard choices of fixing and funding the public schools. Vouchers would only further destroy the public system. If you think that’s unfair then why should my tax monies be used to send your children to any school, public or private, when my last child graduated 20 years ago? It’s your decision not to use the public schools. Why should I fund it?

  12. Ok so now it’s the states fault.
    so where all the “big” Askanim, why aren’t they follwing through with our “buddy” Mr. Christe? Does anybody have answer? No, because no one cares, the same old story.

  13. The Voucher System will be the end of the Public School System. Why not fix the system instead of abandoning it? Vouchers should in no way be allowed for religious training in a school. Equal opportunity to learn math, english, reading, writing, etc…. but not to be spent on any religious training, that should be as it is now, the cost to the parent and not from tax money. The Public School System allows different cultures to mingle and learn about each other, take that away and we may never have peace.

  14. at the risk of sounding naive, if it came down to it, is there any possibility that Lakewood public schools may have to close its’ doors, on account that majority of children attend private school? I’ve heard talk for years now that people want to ship the Lakewood kids off to Jackson & close the public schools. Is that possible?

  15. I might have misquoted Professor Hoban.

    He wrote that the excess Lakewood per student spending on the district report card, which is “59% greater than in Jackson,” is actually misleading. He pointed out that Lakewood is not really spending that much more for each student in the physical plant of the schools, but rather the “% of total NOT dedicated to real school costs = 46%.”

    He explained that in Jackson, that part of the district expense is only 25% and “as we can plainly see, Lakewood’s 46% is clearly way out of line compared to these districts.” Lakewood thus spends 84% more than Jackson for not real school costs. But that money is spent for the education of my kids, those of my neighbors, and those of the vast majority of our future citizens, who I guess, do not count.

    Thus, he concludes that there appears to be no “special circumstances that would explain this HUGE DISCREPANCY in the reasonable allocation of funds.”

    Vouchers are too limited in scope, eligibility and accountability to provide for a whole population of citizens. For the sake of our future, the district has to provide all of our children with access to educational opportunity.

  16. To #6, 7, 9 and 11:
    Many people who send their kids to private schools feel that it’s not fair for them to pay tax dollars to fund public schools and then pay again for private schools. What about me. I don’t have any kids so what can’t I use my education taxes to pay for things I want? Can I use it to pay to send myself to college, or to buy a luxurious car? What am I getting for my education dollar?

    If we were going to do what’s fair then we should send the parents a bill for their children’s education and require them to pay it. If they have 10 kids and can’t pay, throw the kids out of school. That’s what private schools do if you can’t pay.

    The point is that what’s fair and what works are often not the same things. So if you are going to argue that it’s not fair for you to pay for public education if your kids are in private school, then why is it fair for people with no kids to pay for public education? You can’t have it both ways.

  17. The state pays for public school not private. Your choice to send to private school. The state pays for your transportation, thats alot.
    Most of Jackson children are in the public school system and all work together thats why they have so much to offer, a great district…..Your tax dollars pays for other things. Remember your tax dollars go to the town and they give the money to the school, town first, school second just check….

  18. To all those who claim that we have a choice, please be informed that we have no choice. The district denied my own child access to the same distance educational courses as offered to the so-called public school students, those students that count. Our children are denied all educational opportunity. I have no choice.

    If what you mean by “choice” is that I can send my children to the physical plant of the public school, that is just plain ignorant and patronizing. I taught in Lakewood High School for ten years and never saw a child from a yeshiva family attend LHS as a regular student. Out of 22,000 children, why does not even one attend?

    The Lakewood parent is not an individual who makes a choice not to send his or her children the brick and mortar public school, but a part of a community that has precluded that choice as a collective whole.

    The individual has as much choice to send his or her kids to the physical plant of the public schools as he or she has a choice not to pay taxes. What is the difference between a community imposed compulsory social and religious constraint and a punitive legal prescription? We might agree with the act of government or of our community, but that does not make it any less obligatory that you can call it a “choice.”

    So we are between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.” On the one hand, as a community, there is a constitutional right under the Yoder decision not to educate our children in secular subjects. On the other hand, as individuals, we have no choice to get that education if we so desire it.

    My complaint is that I have been denied every opportunity by the district for my children. There are many ways to count our kids for full state funding and to give them access to education. A student does not need to step into the school building to be a public school child. The new board, more than the old board, however, does not care to allow this opportunity.

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