Lakewood Residents Unite For Reform, Igud Endorses BOE Candidates, Rejects Budget

Igud meetingFIRST REPORT: In an emerging alliance, Lakewood’s senior villages, the Igud, LAC and the Vaad have all come together to change the composition and direction of Lakewood’s Board of Education. Three candidates running in Tuesday’s School Board elections, who pledged zero budget increase this year, Chesky Seitler, Isaac Zlatkin, and Carl Fink, have won the solid endorsement of the Igud, the seniors and LAC (a taxpayers’ advocacy group),. The Vaad respected an earlier agreement with the Igud not to make its own endorsements. Nevertheless, as stated in their letter, the Igud consulted with key members of the Vaad in reaching their decision.

Never before have these four coalitions all come together. The 3 candidates have run an effective campaign on a platform of fiscal responsibility, accountability, and transparency. They are already being heralded as consensus builders across Lakewood’s diverse communities.

What turned mainstream voters throughout Lakewood so decisively against the current Board?

No doubt a primary factor was the adoption of a bloated budget, calling for a 12% tax increase, while surrounding school districts were cutting back. But perhaps it was also the dismissal of a very popular, effective Superintendent, Eugenia Lawson, in defiance of howls of public outrage from Lakewood’s minority communities, which prompted the protest resignation of Board President Chet Galdo. Perhaps it was also the nonstop diversion of special education monies from Lakewood’s nonpublic school children with special needs to the District coffers. Or maybe the District’s adamant refusal to break the monopoly of Catapult as sole service provider to these children, at what many educators regard as over-inflated rates. Some say it was the destabilization of the District by the revolving door coming and going of 5 School Superintendents in as many years. Many are convinced it was the root cause of all these Board ailments—the oft-heard complaint that the Board simply lost touch with the voters, listening only to the Board attorney and acting as his rubber stamp. Perhaps no one single factor was decisive, but it certainly seems that Lakewood’s Board of Education has succeeded in alienating voters wall-to-wall.

Whatever the reason, with these endorsements, drastic change is definitely in the air. Will it actually happen, or will it soon blow over just like the volcanic ash cloud now covering much of Europe. Tuesday will tell.

The following is the endorsement: 

The Igud, representing our Mosdos and working closely with taxpayers’ representatives and key members of the Vaad, sent a detailed Questionnaire to the Candidates. We carefully reviewed their written responses, (4 of 7 answered), and met with Yechezkel Seitler, Isaac Zlatkin, and Carl Fink. We were impressed with their strong support for the children in our mosdos.  We were also impressed with the fact that these 3 candidates have pledged to ensure a ZERO dollar budget increase this year, while most members of the current Board of Education have approved a bloated budget which includes a Nine Million ($9,000,000) Dollar increase in the tax levy, representing a 12% increase over last year.  This shows there is definitely a need for change on the Board.

Regarding the One Year Term, many felt that Yisrael Friedman is a superior candidate.  They recommended that the Igud endorse him as a write-in candidate for the One Year Term, as many seniors are doing.  It was a very tough call. At the end we decided to endorse Ada Gonzalez for this seat, to maintain strong ties with Lakewood’s sizable Latino community.

Over the years, the Igud has carefully monitored the School Board to safeguard the Kehilla’s interests.  Since 2006 the Igud: (1) restored over $20 Million in Special Education funding (Title 1 and IDEA) to children with special needs in our mosdos; funding which was previously diverted to the District’s coffers; (2) beaten back concerted attacks on our safety bussing and (3) special education services; gained (4) 70 acres of Township land for our mosdos; (5) Township trash removal from our schools; (6) Expedited processing of our applications to the Planning and Zoning Boards; (7) Reduction in engineering fees charged to our mosdos; (8) Additional, staggered bussing to accommodate flexible dismissal times; (9) A rollback of the cutoff date for transportation eligibility from October 1, to December 31; (10) Recognition of the legitimate tax-exempt status of our schools in cases where this was unfairly contested. On the legislative front we are currently: (11) leading the fight for School Vouchers and Tax Credits; (12) for Charter Schools to serve our community; and (13) increased State aid to Lakewood. All this, plus numerous other educational gains for member schools and many individual students.

The direct beneficiaries of all these accomplishments are our children and families, who are doubly burdened by having to pay for educating public school children through property taxes, and for their own children’s education through tuition payments. The significant gains made by the Igud were accomplished directly because of our achdus and participation in the electoral process—through YOUR VOTE!

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38 COMMENTS

  1. The Igud also voted unanimously to recommend that the budget be defeated, as wasteful and irresponsible. That’s in their Poster hanging around town.

  2. I commend the 3 candidates that are running on a fiscal responsible platform with a vow not to increase the school budget. However I am very concerned when the igud endorses these candidates. The iguds interest is to cover their budgets of their private schools. This is a direct conflict of the average taxpayer whose interest is to see his taxes lowered. The list of the accomplishments that the igud brags about cost me and every taxpayer in town more taxes.
    (1) restored over $20 Million in Special Education funding (Title 1 and IDEA) to children with special needs in our mosdos; funding which was previously diverted to the District’s coffers;
    TAX $$$
    (2) beaten back concerted attacks on our safety bussing and
    TAX $$$
    (3) special education services; gained
    TAX $$$
    (4) 70 acres of Township land for our mosdos;
    TAX $$$
    (5) Township trash removal from our schools;
    TAX $$$
    (6) Expedited processing of our applications to the Planning and Zoning Boards;
    (7) Reduction in engineering fees charged to our mosdos;
    TAX $$$
    (8) Additional, staggered bussing to accommodate flexible dismissal times;
    TAX $$$
    (9) A rollback of the cutoff date for transportation eligibility from October 1, to December 31;
    (10) Recognition of the legitimate tax-exempt status of our schools in cases where this was unfairly contested.
    TAX $$$

  3. I hope there is a big turn out for the candidates…..If Lakewood doesnt come out and vote then they should stop complaining….Tuesday from 2-9 pm is your chance….Bring your wives!!!!

  4. I dont think these 3 will want to run for reelection if they cant get it done!They are running for the sole purpose of stopping the madness of huge budget increases,not for the perks of being there( which there is none)

  5. Yes, we will not run for reelection if we cannot get it done. More so, if we do get it done, we will not run for reelection either as our job would be complete

  6. Finaly a light!!
    The BOE dream team of fink,seitler, and zlatkin together with HAROLD HERSHKOWITZ

    Hey “guys” (fill in the blanks).. Games over!!

  7. Yes exactly what children in school need. Less money for school activities. Oh wait I forgot you don’t have children that attend public school do you?

  8. you want extra PAY FOR IT YOURSELVES!!! THE taxpayers are sick and tired of this Where’s my piece of the pie attitude. Its robbing us blindly. GO GET A JOB MR WOOD

  9. Two things.

    1) da wood, no, I do not have children in public school, because I Choose Not To! But taxes are not something I can opt-out of so I have a right to lower taxes.

    2) It seems even the Igud does not only have the taxpayers best interest at heart. This can be seen with the endorsment of Gonzalez even though she voted for the budget raise. This is not done for “ties with the latino community”

  10. To # 20. I do have a job thank you I live here in Lakewood and I pay my taxes. Thank you very much sir. I don’t want a piece of the pie. I want public school children to have textbooks. I want public school children to have funding for football, baseball, and J.R.O.T.C. just like other townships do. I personally donate when the children do fundraising for these activities but it is not enough. Why should they suffer because you want to save a buck?

  11. please make sure you get the people from country place, woehr ave., 4 th street housing and all other mass housing to get out and vote.these people need to know who too endorse

  12. There are people on the BOE and affliated to the BOE who do not want to see this change. They would like to keep there self interests going on tax payers expense.Vote For Zlatkine Seitler and Fink to bring back honesty intreigity and fiscal resposbilty.

  13. hopefully one day in the very near future all residents will walk hand in hand and together have a real voice in the BOE and how it spends money. The union’s should welcome the change, the candidates have promised to negotiate in good faith from the very start. Do not listen to the current board.

  14. The big sale pitch is lowering the expenses and at the same time the vaad, the Igud and the LAC (endorsing their own candidates) is bragging how much funds they got for our mosdes. We can’t decide how much the teachers at the Lakewood Schools should be paid and then demand services that cost the tax payers. This will result in serious sinas chinum Please rethink your plan!

  15. to the Truth (#30) bravo for considering the “others” who live in town and being mindful how important it is to not cause what you call “sinat chinum”. Public school teachers are hardworking professionals. It’s not an easy job, they’re not there for selfish reasons, and as noted by emes in #12, the citizens of Lakewood bend over backwards, more than they realize to make a nice city of Torah for our people.

  16. All this talk about lowering taxes and saving money and rejecting budget is exactly what it is, “ALL TALK”. Everyone keeps acting as if they dont know who runs the Board, so let me remind you. Its the same ones who you say is endorsing these candidates, so we all know what that means, more of the same according to the “powers that be”
    Another thing, who are these candidates, I have never seen them at any board meetings.

  17. For the first time ever I’m either not voting or voting against the Igud/LAC/VAAD.I was appalled reading some of the interviews with candidates in the papers.All about ‘our community’ etc.(V’ain Kan Mokom L’ha’arch…) Think of the following (not far-fetched scenario): All school districts in Ocean County decide to consolidate to save money. Realizing they are in the majority, they decide to cut most money going to non public schools.How would you feel towards those who made the decision?There is no way I’m willing to have people that way towards me or my representative.Forgetting the moral issues,We are in Golus!!!

  18. listen up folks- There are no hidden agenda’s, all three of the candidates are on the same page. Different organizations are backing the three gentlemen for various reason’s: integrety, honesty to mention a couple besides caring about all the residents of Lakewood

  19. Tell the Emes

    You wrote that “The iguds interest is to cover their budgets of their private schools. This is a direct conflict of the average taxpayer whose interest is to see his taxes lowered.”

    Conflict? I am sure that you are aware that the Igud’s schools save taxpayers $256,580,000 (that’s over $256 Million ANNUALLY, based on this year’s numbers, going up to $264 Million next year) by educating 20,000 Lakewood students at their parents and the schools’ expenses, not the taxpayers. That figure is derived from multiplying the comparative per pupil cost of $12,829 in the public schools by the number of students in our mosdos. Most of that additional cost would come from the local Taxpayers. Your other points similarly defy emes and logic.
    Are you really troubled by the fact that the Igud exposed the District’s theft of $Millions in federal special education funds to prop up the local budget ? That the District does not live within its means but has to resort to such “diversions”? That the Township gave our mosdos land for schools? If our children went to public school would those schools not be built on Township land? Would those schools not be tax exempt? Tell the Emes please, Are You Jewish?

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