Why Are Lakewood’s Public Schools Doomed To Continue Failing? How Much Is This Costing Children In Our Mosdos?
These 5 factors are as follows: 1. Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, New Jersey is operating under a waiver of many of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ (NCLB), requirements, giving NJ’s school districts much greater operational flexibility.
2. The federal ‘supplement not supplant’ rule mandates that school districts use federal funding to add to (supplement), and not replace (supplant), the state and local funds they spend on education. This provision is intended to ensure that the true beneficiaries of the federal funding are the educationally at-risk students. However, this year, all six (6) Lakewood public schools are approved for the Title 1 ‘school-wide’ program. As a result, the basic requirement of ‘supplement not supplant’ is trumped.
3. Due to a change this year in the federal definition of ‘low-income’ for Title 1 eligibility, Lakewood’s total Title 1 allocation increased by 77%, from $8,727,354 in 2012, to $15,433,376 in 2013. ; . Also, Lakewood is unique. No other NJ school District has: (a) such a rapidly-growing school population, (b) such a high level of impoverished student population in both the nonpublic and public school sectors, and (c) such a high ratio of nonpublic-to-public Title 1 funding entitlement: 76.65% NPS to 23.35% PS, more than 3-to-1. If Lakewood’s schools were not failing, and the District’s total Title 1 allocation of $15,433,376 was proportionately divided, the eligible NPS students would receive $11,829,683 in Title 1, and the eligible PS students would receive $3,603,693.
4. Four out of Lakewood’s 6 public schools are failing. Lakewood High School has the lowest graduation rate in all of New Jersey.
5. In the April 2012 BOE elections, a slate of tax advocates gained control of the Board under the guise of seeking long overdue school reform, an end to pervasive corruption, and more and better special education and related services for eligible, struggling students. Since the elections, however, the new majority has shown its true colors. The facts show that most (not all), are driven by a short-sighted, single-minded agenda of budget slashing, with little concern for genuine educational reform or for addressing the needs of children with special needs, and even less concern for transparency and accountability. No structural educational reforms and no significant personnel changes have been introduced; it’s business as usual. Even worse, several District staff members previously complicit in the culture of impunity have been retained, some were even promoted.
Since 4 out of 6 Lakewood public schools are failing, 30% of this year’s Title 1 allocation—$4,630,012 of the $15,433,376 — must be taken ‘off-the-top’ and reserved for fixing the failing schools. Furthermore, since Lakewood won approval for a ‘school-wide’ program, the reserved funds do not have to benefit a targeted population of educationally disadvantaged children. Worse, the funds are fungible—they can be used to supplant, rather than supplement, the District’s school budget. In other words, the taxpayers are the real beneficiaries, not the educationally disadvantaged students, nor even the general student population. Small wonder that parents and other stakeholders were never consulted on the ‘school-wide’ program, though such consultations are mandated by law. Read full report with footnotes here.