On Thursday evening, following the approval of a Shared Services Agreement with Lakewood Township was approved by the Board of Education, the Township Committee agreed to negotiate, but did not approve, the Shared Services Agreement with the BOE. The expectation since then has been that a final deal would be hammered out within a few days.
But sources told TLS on Monday that the agreement very much hangs in the balance. The Township is understandably not eager to take upon itself the responsibility of Lakewood’s busing situation which has been a disaster for years. Officials are concerned that the Township would be forced to raise taxes to be able to provide proper transportation, a move nobody wants connected to them.
There are two other solutions being considered in the event that the Shared Services Agreement ultimately falls through.
The first is to provide vouchers to the parents of school children which can only be used for transportation costs.
The other option is that the Board of Education would hire the employees of the Lakewood Student Transportation Authority, rather than the Township hiring them, which was what the Shared Service Agreement would have done.
The Township would continue providing roughly $22 million in state funds for mandatory busing to the BOE to assist in funding the transportation.