Tentative School Budget Adoption Scheduled

Photo by Chris Lundy

LAKEHURST – The Lakehurst Board of Education has tentatively scheduled its 2019-2020 budget adoption for 7 p.m. March 19, with a board workshop starting at 6:30 p.m.

Its next regularly scheduled board meeting is 7 p.m. April 16.

The figures for its 2019-2020 proposed budget were not available at press time.

However, a copy of the district’s “user friendly” budget from 2018-19 was available, showing a proposed total operating budget of $8.5 million, $1.2 million of that to be raised through local taxes.

One challenge facing the approximately 376-student district is how its $1 million mold remediation bill will be paid. School officials have said the district doesn’t have the money.

The issue came up at the Lakehurst Borough Council meeting March 7. Mayor Harry Robbins and Council President Steven Oglesby said the borough was asked by the school district to go to bond for the money.

“They came to us, we had a meeting. They asked if we could bond for them. We looked into it, and there’s no legal way even if we wanted to,” Robbins said.

Even if it were legal, Robbins said, going to bond for the school district would hurt the borough’s bond rating, and if an emergency arose, the borough wouldn’t be able to bond for any more money.

“Our own bond counsel said it’s illegal for us to lend them money or try to skirt the issue. It wouldn’t be prudent, but it’s also not legal,” Oglesby added.

Mold was found throughout the elementary school building over the summer, forcing the entire building to be shut down for cleaning. The school’s K-8 population started the school year in different locations – St. John Roman Catholic Church in Lakehurst, and Whiting and Ridgeway elementary schools and Manchester Middle School in Manchester – and didn’t return to their own building until Jan. 7.