Kingsway’s New Track: A Fair Funding Victory


A map of prospective facility .Lines on the field indicate multiple sport use.

After six trackless years, Kingsway Regional High School’s sports facilities will undergo renovations “as early as this week,” giving some of South Jersey’s top runners a place to showcase their skills, said superintendent James Lavender on Sept 25.

These renovations will include the construction of a new eight-lane track, and a new synthetic turf multi-purpose sports field, Lavender said. 

“We hope that the renovations will be done in 90 to 120 days… If everything goes according to plan, and the weather cooperates, our athletes and our health and physical education programs will have a new track to be able to use in the Spring,” Lavender said.

The new athletic facilities, and the many other improvements Kingsway is currently undergoing, come after a lengthy legal battle with the New Jersey state government to raise Kingsway’s inadequate state funding to acceptable levels, a battle that Lavender, by his own words, had been involved with for over a decade. 

“The most difficult part was getting people to listen to us, and educating our school community… to the point where they understood our plight,” Lavender said. 

Educating the Kingsway community on the fair funding issue took a sustained effort on the part of Lavender and his staff, but once the community understood the disparity between Kingsway’s state funding and that of other New Jersey schools, Lavender said, it became easier to point the school district’s frustrations towards Trenton. 

“It’s one thing when you have a superintendent stomping his feet… But once everybody started conveying the same message, we were a difficult group of people to ignore,” Lavender said. 

Under New Jersey’s new school funding laws, which came into effect in July of 2018, Kingsway’s annual state funding will increase by eight to nine million dollars over a six year period, by Lavender’s estimation. In addition to enabling the construction of the new athletic facilities, which will cost about 3.1 million dollars, the new funding also enabled Kingsway to hire more teachers, shrink class sizes, and expand extracurricular and honors programs.

“We argued that it was absolutely unfair, grossly unfair, that because you were born in 08085 zip code, that you had lesser resources than kids next door,” Lavender said. 

With this new funding, Lavender and his staff will now be able to start bridging that gap in resources between Kingsway students and their neighbors. One of the biggest steps towards that equality is the replacement of Kingsway’s 25 year old track, which had become so severely deteriorated that it was deemed unsafe to run on. 

“It’s very frustrating for us as educators to not be able to provide something for our kids. To be able to see our kids participate… will be a very rewarding moment for all of us,” Lavender said.