The Lakewood Development Corporation (LDC) is set today to formally authorize giving the Lakewood Student Transportation Authority (LSTA) a $2 million loan to ensure that they have sufficient funding to get school buses rolling for the start of the new school year, without needing to wait for the State funding to kick in, FAA News has learned.

A few years ago, when the initial LSTA authority expired and the Legislature decided not to renew the program, the operators of LSTA decided to keep running by rebranding as a privately run operation. The Board of Education happily boosted support for the plan by stating that "we don't want to go back to the days where we ran buses for nonpublic schools, instead we want to contract our these services out to a capable and willing private operator!" At that point, the School District published a sham Request for Proposals. While this process was pending, (which involved the LSTA submitting a formal proposal to keep their job), the LDC awarded LSTA a loan to kickstart the year without needing to wait for the State funding to kick in. LDC member Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg explained that they were awarding the loan despite that the Board of Education's Request for Proposals was still pending as "we already know that LSTA will win the bid!"

This year as well, LSTA is in need of a bit of cash to ensure they have sufficient funding to get the year started without needing to wait for the State funding to kick in. They have requested a $2 million loan from the Township.

After discussion with Mayor Ray Coles, Manager Patrick Donnelly, and other Township officials, it was decided to use Enterprise Zone Assistance Funds for this loan. These funds are administered through the LDC.

At the last LDC meeting, Mayor Coles explained that UEZ funding, which is typically used to boost business economics in the Township, would be appropriate for this loan, as, this loan would support the ability of the Township’s economic resources to operate with a predictable and smooth flow of traffic; I.e. school buses for students would ensure that the parents can remain at their businesses without needing to carpool their children.

Mayor Coles added that the State's reimbursement is expected to come in December. Additionally, the bussing bill, which, as first reported here on FAA News, did not receive a final vote in the Legislature before the summer recess, will hopefully come back in the Fall.

The LSTA buses 47,000 students, which tallies nearly 17 million trips per year.

The LDC is holding a special meeting this afternoon to formally authorize the $2 million loan for a period of 12 months.

The Township Committee is expected to additionally approve this loan this Thursday.

In an unrelated matter, the Township recently gave the School District $3 million for non-mandated services including busing. That was not a loan. The Township also gave the School District $100,000 to operate the district’s summer program.

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Anonymous said...

If its expected to come from the state in December, how come the loan is not 6 months, contingent on the funding coming in December.
There can be a clause that if the funding does not come in then it will extend on a month to month basis. Why do they need an extra 6 months?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 6:43 PM,

The last time they gave LSTA such a loan, they needed to extend it several more months. This time around they decided to word it in a way so that they do not need to do so many extensions...