LAKEHURST – By now, we are all beginning to feel the effects of S-2 on local school districts.
S-2 was a bill that changed how much funding many schools received from the state. Following several recent trips to Trenton and numerous pleas for more school funding from local districts, one Ocean County town has finally been heard.
The Lakehurst Borough School District recently announced that they would be receiving over $650,000 in emergency aid to supplement the district’s current school budget. The great news was announced to parents in a letter from Superintendent Loren B. Fuhring.
“As you are aware, the 2018-2019 school year left us in a significant shortfall due to the environmental remediation and asbestos removal that was necessary when removing carpets and completing a substantial deep cleaning of the entire building,” stated Fuhring in the letter.
Following an especially humid summer, the Lakehurst Elementary School was closed down for the first half of the school year for mold remediation, sending students to neighboring Manchester schools. It wasn’t until Jan. 7, 2019 that the mold issues had finally been solved and Lakehurst Elementary was reopened to students for the 2018-2019 school year.
Through constant contact with state and county officials, Lakehurst administrators were encouraged to seek out loans, assistance from the township, and/or enter into a lease purchase agreement.
In June 2019, the district concluded the fiscal year with a deficit.
In August 2019, state officials notified all districts that applications for emergency aid would be available to be awarded on a grant basis, according to Fuhring.
Some school districts, such as Brick, were denied their request for emergency aid altogether. Others, like Toms River, were only given a portion of what they requested. Lakehurst announced in December that they were given nearly all of what they had asked for from the Department of Education.
“Currently, the Lakehurst School District cannot be more pleased to announce that we are in receipt of the majority of the funds requested. The state provided us with a substantial grant in the amount of $651,122.00 to assist in balancing the current budget,” stated Fuhring in the letter. “However, it is important to note that these funds will greatly assist, however will not “fix” the budget in its entirety, as unbudgeted special education and transportation costs have challenged the district.”
While this additional funding is a relief to the district in the midst of major cuts, it does not mean that Lakehurst schools are exempt or saved from further funding cuts due to S-2 in the future.
“The board of education and the district will continue to evaluate the needs of the district and make financial decisions accordingly,” she added.