Lakewood Public Schools to Receive $36 Million State Loan
After a tumultuous week the Lakewood public school district reopened its briefly shuttered doors after receiving notice that its budget would be supplemented by a $36 million loan from the state Department of Education.
For over a decade, the district has faced mounting deficits, largely as a result of the state funding formula’s failure to account for the expenses of providing mandated services to the town’s private school students who comprise the vast majority.
This gap has traditionally been filled by loans from the state. For many years, they were delivered at the last minute after protests and the threat of having to make massive programming cuts and staffing reductions, yet last year it was delivered well in advance, with little drama. Advocates for the district have been appreciative of loans, but have long said that a permanent carve out that would recognize the unique needs of the town and stem the ever increasing debt is long overdue.
This year, Governor Phil Murphy took a step in this direction by including $30 million in additional funding for the district in his initial budget proposal. The funding also included $6 million that was earmarked for LSTA, the private consortium that manages transportation for all of Lakewood’s non-public schools.
Yet, two weeks ago, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D- Gloucester) struck the funding from the legislature’s version of the budget together with many other high ticket items the governor had included. While some items were partially replaced, Lakewood’s $30 million remained absent from the final budget signed by the governor.
Lacking funds to function in the coming year, Lakewood’s board of education closed its doors last week Monday. Yet, after a letter was received that the state would be delivering a $36 million loan, the district re-commenced its activities.
Few details were given regarding the loan and it is not yet clear whether it includes funding for LSTA.
Still perturbed that funds to educate and provide services to the district had to come through yet another loan, Lakewood’s board of education has filed a suit against the legislature’s leadership and the state department of education claiming that they are discriminating against Lakewood’s students.
Lakewood Airport Receives Federal Grant
Lakewood’s airport has been awarded a federal grant to help modernize its facilities and expand operations.
The $242,640 package from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will largely be used to construct more areas to park and store aircraft.
“This project will ultimately enable us to meet more demand and to pursue other expanded services with this new capacity on hand,” said Steve Reinman Director of Economic & Industrial Development for Lakewood Township which oversees the airfield.
In keeping with a decade old masterplan, the airport has embarked on several projects to improve its infrastructure. Some of the new construction led to a shortage of hangar space and temporary parking areas for planes, leaving it ill equipped to house both local and visiting aircraft.
The present grant is earmarked to be used to design a 12,000 square yard to securely park planes.
“This funding was approved by the FAA and will be used to design operational upgrades to Lakewood Airport facilities,” Rep. Chirs Smith (R-NJ) who was instrumental in securing the funding. “The Lakewood Airport is an important component to the Lakewood Office Industrial Park and helps boost economic activity in Lakewood and in the surrounding Ocean County area.”
The grant was given as part of a larger package of $6.4 million from the FAA for the improvement of various air travel facilities around New Jersey.
Ocean County Legislators Launch Petition Opposing “Sanctuary State” Policies
A trio of Republican legislators representing the southern part of Ocean County have launched a petition to voice opposition state policies directing millions of dollars to aid illegal immigrants in New Jersey.
A statement on the campaign jointly issued by Senator Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove drew attention to what they see as an irresponsible and politically motivated use of taxpayer funds.
“Leave it to Trenton: New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the nation and school districts are seeing sharp funding cuts and yet, Trenton manages to find millions of dollars — taxpayer dollars — to pay the legal costs of illegal aliens facing detention or deportation,” said the legislators. “The rule of law is being replaced by a new political doctrine: reward people for breaking the law. Law-abiding, taxpaying citizens are being disenfranchised and sold out by politicians who, unabashedly, want New Jersey to be designated as a sanctuary state, no matter the cost.
A total of $3.1 million has been earmarked for various programs to aid illegal aliens in the state, an issue that has become increasingly politicized since President Donald Trump assumed office with a promise to reign in illegal immigration. This year, an additional $1 million was added to provide legal aid to those facing prosecution or removal from the country by immigration officials.
More than 21,000 people have already signed the petition which urges Governor Phil Murphy to reverse “sanctuary state” polices that his administration has supported.