A long- awaited meeting with New Jersey state officials has paved the way for all tutoring services to resume in Lakewood’s mosdos.
“We hope that all vendors will be back to work in the next couple of days,” said a local official who asked not to be named. “The contracts are 40 pages long, so it could take some time to review them.”
The meeting opened with a strong statement from state Sen. Robert Singer stressing that while bureaucracy was turning its slow wheels, not only were thousands of students without needed extra help, but hundreds of tutors were without jobs, creating serious stress on the local economy.
“I think that everybody went away from the meeting feeling good,” said Josh Pruzansky, New Jersey Director of the OU Advocacy Center. “Everybody got to air their concerns. This meeting should have taken place before this whole thing started, but better late than never.”
The meeting, held on Friday at Lakewood High School, was attended by representatives of the state, the Board of Education, leaders of Lakewood mosdos, local and several other advisors who have been involved since the non-public school funding crisis began in mid-August.
The matter has come a long way since the beginning of the school year which began without nursing, shadowing, tutoring, or self-contained classroom services. An emergency meeting, called by the Board of Education, managed to restore most of the above with math and English tutoring, funded by Federal Title One and State statute 192 remaining a sticking point.
“There has been dialogue every single day with the state commissioner, the state, and vendors,” said the local official. “We only found out that this was going to be a problem on Aug. 15. We had some dialogue then, but with no success. There have been a lot of people involved since then.”
A main sticking point between the state and mosdos is a demand that there be four hours of “core curriculum” classes in order for schools to qualify for tutoring funding. The issue itself remains unresolved, but in the meantime the state education commissioner’s office gave permission for the “four hour” requirement to be left out of contracts allowing for tutoring vendors to start services while the point is still under discussion.
Mr. Pruzansky said that a committee of various advocacy groups from both the Orthodox community and non-Jewish public schools will now work on finding a long-term solution. He said that the state has not yet decided whether they plan to work directly with the committee.
“A motion was passed at the emergency meeting to do exactly what is happening now, but the state monitor stuck it down then and said it was in violation of state requirements,” said the local official. “Now the assistant commissioner basically came and said that it’s not true, there was no violation. In no other district would such things be tolerated.”