Lakewood High School is in line to cut a majority of its athletic department, including the tradition-rich boys basketball program, according to the budget that passed at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.

The Asbury Park Press reported Tuesday that state monitor David Shafter overruled a refusal by the Board of Education to approve the budget. The motion restored nearly 130 teaching jobs that were initially eliminated by a proposed budget from a month earlier, but cut all funding to every sports program other than boys and girls soccer and boys and girls track and field.

The football program will also return in the fall thanks to an $84,000 pledge from the Lakewood Township committee.

The new budget also eliminated the athletic director and athletic trainer positions, which were occupied by Tom Stead and Pat Halpin, respectively.

While the township did not rule out pledging funding for other athletic programs and district superintendent Laura Winters told the APP she believes the budget will be amended at the next Board of Education meeting on July 19, the events Tuesday night put a Shore basketball powerhouse in the cross-hairs.

With no current funding, Lakewood cannot operate on its usual summer basketball schedule. Despite the news from Tuesday night, Lakewood head boys basketball coach Randy Holmes is optimistic that there will be a resolution that leads to the Piners competing on the hardwood in 2017-18 and beyond.

“As of now, there is no basketball,” Holmes said via text. “I’m very confident that all sports will be reinstated.”

This marks the second consecutive year in which Holmes has navigated around drama with the board.  Last May, Holmes resigned from his position as boys basketball coach only to rescind that resignation two days later. He initially resigned over a dispute with a board member over an annual summer camp that he runs.

As for the few sports that remain, there are still obstacles for them to function as they normally do given the turmoil in the athletic department. A source familiar with the situation said clearing fall athletes to play via physicals will be a challenge because Halpin handled the vast majority of that workload and there is currently no set deadline date for physicals to be completed.

Tuesday’s budget proposal incorporated emergency state funding granted to the district in light of its $14.7 million budget deficit, according to the APP report. That funding allowed for the restoration of more than 100 teaching jobs.

The school libraries also face dramatic cuts with Tuesday's budget proposal. Only one librarian is being retained in the current 2017-18 budget, according to the APP.


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