Lakewood Schools Superintendent Winters Follows Up On OLS Report With Letter To Education Commissioner

Following up on the recent audit of the Lakewood Public School district conducted by the the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services (OLS), Lakewood Schools Superintendent Laura Winters wrote to acting Education Commissioner Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan on Sunday.

In her letter, Winters noted that the findings contained in the audit are identical to what the district noted in their 2017 PowerPoint presentation before the state Department of Education.

“The Lakewood School District may be considered a district confronted by severe fiscal distress and could benefit from an additional state aid category similar to commercial valuation stabilization aid,” she wrote, using the exact language included in the audit.

The original PowerPoint presentation, as created in 2017, noted that with approximately 50,000 non-public school students in Lakewood and 5,000 public school students, the state funding formula simply does not work for Lakewood, as it doesn’t for Atlantic City.

For the 2017-18 school year, the state Legislature approved an additional $32 million in discretionary aid for the Atlantic City Public School district, using commercial valuation stabilization aid.

The presentation noted that the per-capita income for Lakewood was $18,959, significantly lower than Atlantic City’s $21,048. The state average at the time was $49,691.

Any change in funding for a school district must be approved by the state Legislature.

“We are glad the state has now reached the same conclusion as we did in 2017,” Board attorney Michael Inzelbuch told TLS.

“However, now it is up to the Legislature to implement those changes and provide the district with the funds it desperately needs. I ask everyone to call Senator Singer’s office at (732) 987-5669 and ask him for his assistance in getting this done,” Inzelbuch added.

Winters’ letter also addressed the busing issue, which the audit noted as well, can be helped significantly by the creation of a LSTA style consortium which can take over the busing for multiple districts, thereby cutting costs and allowing more children to be transported to school from surrounding municipalities.

A bill creating such a consortium has passed the state Assembly unanimously in late June and is now awaiting a final vote in the Senate before it can go to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Commissioner Allen-McMillan - OLS Report August 13 2023

 

Lakewood compared to Atlantic City UPDATED August 13 2023
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