Rabbi Weisberg of Lakewood Community Busing Task Force: Carpool Drill Complete Success; Important Data Gleaned

video report“We are pleased to report that the two day busing drill was concluded successfully,” says Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg of the Lakewood Community Busing Task Force, and longtime Lakewood Askan.

“On behalf of the Lakewood Community Busing Task Force, we sincerely thank the thousands and thousands of Lakewood school children parents who actively participated in this drill. Participation was near-universal and the test drill seems to be an accurate preview of what traffic might look like in the fall if bussing cuts are not restored.”

“Special recognition and appreciation is given to the Lakewood Police Department; the various emergency services serving the Lakewood community and beyond; and all others who contributed to an orderly and effective dry run of real-life situation we may be facing this September.”

“Initial data from many observation points, and supported by reports on The Lakewood Scoop website and by the commercial traffic reporting service WAZE, indicate an average of 20 to 40 minutes of additional delays due to the extra congestion caused by the additional carpooling.”

“Especially hit hard was the northbound Route 9 corridor from Cross Street to Lake Carasaljo and the streets feeding into it; particularly Central Avenue, James Street, Ninth Street and Clifton Avenue. School starting times were significantly affected, generally causing a loss of 30 minutes to an hour of classroom instruction due to the late arrival of many students. The towns hundreds of teachers, educators and administrators were seriously challenged to arrive at school on time.”

As predicted, says Rabbi Weisberg, these delays coming in tandem with already heavily congested rush hour traffic, clearly result in a nightmare for commuters, residents, schools children and parents. Working mothers, who already juggling child care and job responsibilities, were particularly hard hit.

“At least In Lakewood’s case, the term ‘Courtesy Busing’ is a total mislabeling of the crucial service that is vital to the safety of Lakewood’s children and necessary to keep traffic flowing in an orderly manner.”

Please note, “that this is not an Orthodox issue. According to Lakewood BOE members, 2000 public school students, mostly minority low income students without a household car, are stated to lose their busing as well. As such, an immediate effective solution must be found to provide safe and efficient school transportation for all of Lakewood’s children. The situation is simply unsustainable in the long run.”

“While the task force sincerely regrets any inconvenience caused to residents and commuters during the drill period, the drill was necessary and the results speak for themselves. It should be clear to all stakeholders and decision makers that we must continue to work together in a cooperative spirit to tackle this issue with urgency and resolve to assure that the situation of these last two days does not repeat itself permanently in the fall.”

Rabbi Weisberg says they will continue their joint discussions with representatives of the Lakewood School District, the State Education Department and Lakewood Township municipal officials to find cost-effective solutions to this potential nightmare. “With each of us – including the schools involved – doing its share to provide resources and increase efficiency, we will hopeful craft a workable sustainable solution to a most challenging and complex issue.” [TLS]

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  1. Thank God this is over, I really hope that the right people will understand the ramifications of canceling courtesy busing and seriously rethink their decision.

    This is not only not fair to the Lakewood’s parents and children that will be losing their bussing, this will affect all the surrounding townships and cities as well.

  2. Interesting how a lot of the issues were in the southern part of Lakewood where there is no infrastructure to handle all the traffic. No one is coming after those responsible for letting the infrastructure fall far behind from what it needs to be.

  3. I want to know what my taxes are paying for?!!?!!?? I want an itemized list of all the expenses that the county has. Something does not make sense. Someone is getting a huge salary somewhere!!!!

  4. The budget is open for all to see . The 150 million is basically broken up this way : 37 million comes from state and Federal grants that are given per student ,including nursing,textbooks,Title one aid for weaker students etc . Most of this is given per student or by income of the parent body and distributed in a fair ratio to public and private schools . This 37 million has absolutely no affect on the tax rate .
    Approximately 85 million will come from the local taxpayers
    .An additional approx. 28 million will come in various forms of State aid directly to the District. Of this 28 million 3 million is for transportation aid , 3 million is for Special Ed aid , 15 million is regular State aid to the district pursuant to the State formula that all districts get as ” Equalization aid ”

    So 85 plus 28 plus 37 equals 150 million .The 37 million in grants is not really relevant to the taxpayer so its really 113 million of which the State kicks in with 28 million .

    The 85 million is the number the local taxpayer is paying . You can look at the budget and see the few larger numbers as to where things are going .

  5. 2 ironic things about the published BOE Budget:

    1 – The cost per child is over 28K per year (150M / 5,300 Students).
    2 – Transportation service cost for the BOE is over 17 million.

  6. To Ironic . You need to read and understand the budget . What you wrote is not accurate . 17 million in transportation is without the proposed courtesy busing . last year the real number was over 20 million . Most of that is for the private school transportation so you cant divide that by 5300. The 37 million in federal and State grants is also for the most part divided fairly to all students including private , so you also cant divide that by 5300. The 25 million in tuition is for a special education school for a limited number of public school students so you also cant divide that by 5300 students .There might be another 2 million in Ot Pt and other salaries that the private schools use . So a more accurate number would be 150-16-37-25-2 = 70 million divided by 5300 students = 13,207 per student . The public school teachers get paid much better wages and benefits than our Mosdos teachers and they also have a huge amount of adminstrative and security and maintenance staff compared to our Mosdos . This is not an exact science but you are not being accurate by saying the number is 28,000 per student .

  7. I am still at a loss to understand how this drill bares any similarity to what would happen in September if courtesy busing was dropped. To me it looks like apples and oranges.
    I have yet to get a logical answer.

  8. Jog a Thon
    Thanks for the kind words . I became learned yesterday when I downloaded the budget from the BOE website,printed it out and studied it for about half an hour . It is not rocket science . A tosfos in Cheskas Habatim ( lehavdil ) is a lot more difficult .
    Dont misunderstand me .I firmly believe that we are being shortchanged on the State formula and our District deserves much more State aid because of our unique number of private school students . Yet I dont like when so many people who are entirely ignorant of the facts , make comments like “the BOE must be corrupt “and “where is the money going ” . If they would take out a half hour of their time, they would see for themselves where it is going .

    As far as running for office , B”H I have enough seichel not to do that .

  9. @Budget, thank you for the breakdown. You state that the teachers in the public schools make better wages and benefits, they are all certified by the state to teach, many with masters degrees, can the same be said for all the teachers in the private schools?

  10. To SW
    Busing was included in the Budget . Last years number was over 20 million and this projected new budget is over 16 million because the courtesy busing was eliminated . But both budgets have a number for ” student transportation ” Please note that this number includes both Public and Private busing . So I dont understand your question . There is a State cap as to how much the BOE can raise their tax levy from year to year so they had to cut the total budget to remain under that cap . There are mandated and non mandated programs . Teachers are obviously mandated so that could not be cut . They probably could have cut some of the public school non mandated programs such as sports or other things but they chose to cut the non mandated busing instead .

    As far as cost per student ,I dont know exactly . The routes are bid out every year and obviously it depends on the length of the route and many other factors . I would guess the average cost per student is somewhere between 700 to 750 per year . I could be wrong . I think under state law if the cost exceeds 884 per student they can give you the 884 and say go find your own transportation and they do not have to spend more .

  11. So now this “drill” was just to collect data? And that data says the southern corridor of Rt 9 is heavily congested? Didn’t need a protest to figure that out..

  12. How do public school children cost 28k per year?
    There’s the rub.

    Lower that, and all this nonsense will fall into place.
    We are being taxed to the abyss.
    We meed:
    School voucher system
    Dismantle these insane teachers unions
    Hire entrepreneurial business people to run the board
    HAVE third party assessments of all BOE budgets

  13. This drill showed nothing. The streets are always congested and will only get worse as new houses are built and families move into Lakewood. Courtesy busing needs to stop…especially when private schools do not go to the schools closest to their home. It’s a waste of money. As far as the congested roads..1) leave earlier so you will be where you need to be on time..(common sense)..and stagger start times for the private schools (like public schools do)..also common sense.

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