LAKEWOOD – A shutdown that forced about 1,000 special education students to stay home Monday has ended and the Lakewood Public School District is open for business on the promise of a $36 million loan from the state.
The district was shuttered for a single day after the school board reversed course, unanimously voting to void a budget it had passed a week earlier to avert a shutdown. Without a budget, no money could be spent, according to school board attorney Michael Inzelbuch.
Inzelbuch blamed the shutdown on the state, but critics of the district are pushing back calling the closure a stunt.
Gov. Phil Murphy had slated an additional $30 million to go to Lakewood, but when the Legislature drafted its budget it axed the funding. District leadership refused to sign off on the $171 million budget without knowing where that $30 million would come from, saying it was necessary to provide a thorough education and balance the books.
But even without the $30 million, the district receives other revenue that it could have used to keep doors open Monday, according to David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center. Among those other sources are $102 million in local tax levy and tens of millions in other state aid, according to the district’s budget.
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