Faced with a loss of student transportation options in the fall, a group representing Lakewood yeshivos is urging parents to refuse public busing on Wednesday and Thursday to show state officials what their plan for no busing would look like in the upcoming school year.
New Jersey’s latest Board of Education budget ended a nearly $4 million courtesy busing program for an estimated 8,100 Lakewood students attending private school in grades four to 12, unless they live more than 21/2 miles away from the school. That represents about 80 percent of the overall student population in the township.
In a letter endorsed by the Roshei Yeshivah of Bais Medrash Govoha sent home to parents on Monday, Rabbi Yisroel Schenkolewski said that by not using courtesy busing provided by the state, parents would show what kind of gridlock would result in September, as well as give the township a sample drill for them to be able to deal with the traffic mess.
“A letter was delivered to the Lakewood Township, giving them ample time to mobilize their resources to facilitate a best case scenario under the circumstances,” the letter read. “The planned drill has the approval of the Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Malkiel [Kotler] and Gedolei Roshei Hayeshivah of America, shlita.”
Officials were meeting Monday in Trenton to avert what they are calling a drill, which could clog the streets with hundreds of cars. The drill, supposed to have taken place on Tuesday and Wednesday, was postponed by a day to allow negotiations to continue.
“We recognize the inconvenience that this will cause,” the letter said. “However, without bus transportation, this will be the norm unless a better solution is found. There will be obvious delays because of the traffic, however we feel that the end will justify the means — and through our hishtadlus a more viable option will come from it.”
The drill is only called for the two mornings, not for dismissal times.
Yeshivos and girls’ schools will start at regular times but school employees will not be expected to be on time, TheLakewoodScoop.com reported. They added that Bais Medrash Govoha is canceling their shmiras sedarim arrangement for the two mornings.
The Lakewood school budget — which pays for all aspects of public school as well as limited expenditures for private school, such as busing — is paid for, as in the rest of the nation, by local property taxes. That means that the majority of residents who send to yeshivah pay double for education.