Toms River will continue distributing stipends to parents in the township who send to private schools, as officials said it is still the most efficient way for the township to shoulder the expense, according to a report by the Asbury Park Press.
The report emphasized that the stipends would cost the district $850,000. Rabbi Avi Schnall, director of the New Jersey office of the Agudath Israel of America, countered with a letter to the editor stressing the funds saved by sparing the district the cost of providing more children with a public-school education.
“By sending children to private schools, Toms River residents are actually saving over $15,000 in tax money per child, totaling $13,233,650 for 850 students,” he said.
“As all Toms River homeowners pay their share of property taxes, private school parents are contributing equally to the public-school coffers [as] their neighbors who educate their children by sending them to public school. According to state statistics, last year, Toms River Regional spent $16,659 per public-school student.”
The state requires districts to provide transportation to all children in the district. Should it prove inefficient for the districts to provide transportation directly, they can provide a $1,000 stipend as “aid in lieu of transportation.”
This year, Jackson Township began providing transportation for some of its private school children who attend schools, mostly mosdos haTorah, in neighboring Lakewood.
Officials from Toms River said that it is likely that in the next year or two they will begin providing busing directly to children who attend schools with large student populations in the town, but that an evaluation of the situation yielded that it was not yet efficient for them to do so.
Currently, most Orthodox Toms River residents who received the $1,000 stipends pay them to LSTA (Lakewood Student Transportation Authority) to have their children’s transportation arranged by the same organization that presently oversees the service for private school students in Lakewood.