Lakewood Courtesy Busing Debate Continues [AUDIO]
A protest by those upset over the decision to cut courtesy busing in Lakewood comes to an end Thursday, but the issue is far from decided.
Parents of private and public students in Lakewood jammed the streets driving their children to school, as a form of protest against a state monitor's recent decision to save $4 million by eliminating busing for the 2014-2015 school year. The cut applies to students in grades four through 12 living within 2.5 miles of schools.
The act was meant to demonstrate how congested streets would be if the cut is allowed to take place.
"If in fact this is not an issue that is cleared up, if there is no resolution to the continuation of courtesy busing next year, then I believe this could become the norm," said Lakewood committeeman Steven Langert.
A state monitor was called after Lakewood's school district faced budget shortfalls over the last school year. School district president Isaac Zlatkin has expressed interest in finding a way to raise the money needed to preserve the program.
Neither Lakewood school superintendent Laura Winters nor any member of the school board returned phone calls requesting comments on the situation.
While the township operates a budget completely separate from the school district, Langert said the additional traffic woes from the lack of courtesy busing would inconvenience all motorists and possibly force officials to shift police assignments to coordinate traffic flow.
Numerous other school districts have eliminated courtesy busing as a means to save money. However, unlike other districts, Langert said the majority of Lakewood's students attend private school, and many of the residents have come to rely on busing.
"This is at least one service they can get for the taxes that they pay," Langert said.