Monday, November 12, 2018

Hoboken High School Drops 48 Spots in 2018 NJ Monthly's Bi-Annual Ranking of New Jersey Public and Charter High Schools to 260th out of 305

Hoboken High School- Hoboken, NJ 
In 2015 a new superintendent was hired by the Hoboken Board of Education and inherited a high school ranked 212th in the bi-annual NJ Monthly ranking of New Jersey High Schools.  Jump ahead a few years and the 2018 NJ Monthly rankings of 305 Public High Schools have been released. The rankings are comprehensive, using sound statistical and psychometric weightings to objectively evaluate the quality of high schools in NJ. Charter schools are public schools— free to all students who attend—and are included among the 305 ranked high schools. 
Click to Enlarge 

Hoboken High School is now ranked 260th out of New Jersey’s 305 public high schools. The NJ Monthly Report indicates that the school has an 8:1 student-teacher ratio (among the lowest in the state), offers 11 AP/IB courses, and about 40% of student take at least one art course. Unfortunately, the data also indicates that only 15% of the student scored at or above 530 of the Math SAT (53rd percentile) and 37% scored at or above 480 (31st percentile) in reading and writing. 
Hoboken Board of Education Meeting - Circa 2017

This compilation of data by New Jersey Monthly further supports the general thesis that black students are not leaving Hoboken High School college ready. Hispanic students are not leaving Hoboken High School college ready. White students are not leaving Hoboken High School college ready. Free or Reduced Lunch Qualified students are not leaving Hoboken High School college ready. Medium family income students are not leaving Hoboken High School college ready. This is also evident by the fact that less than 75% of Hoboken High School students are enrolled in college 16 months after high school according to NJ Monthly. 

Perhaps most telling of the instruction and leadership offered at Hoboken High School is with the Advanced Placement (AP) students. While 54.5% of 11th and 12th graders took an AP/IB course and 68% took at least one AP/IB test for college credit, only 6.9% of students scored at least a 3 on the AP or a 4 on the IB. Such scores are required to receive college credit at most accredited four year colleges and universities in the United States. Few other schools in the state have such high percentages of students taking an AP/IB course while failing to receive any college credit for their effort. 

Various "reform" members of the
Hoboken Board of Education Between 2008-2018
The current ranking represents a drop of 48 spots since 2016. Superintendent Johnson took over leadership of the school district in 2015. This is a significant and non trivial drop in quality of an already struggling high school. As a point of reference, Hoboken High School was ranked 139th in 2008 under the leadership of Superintendent Raslowsky, Principal Lorraine Cella, and a non-“reform” Board of Education. Back then Hoboken High School had 1) Similar percentages of Black and Latino/a students, 2) a higher percentage of students qualifying for Free or Reduced Lunch, 3) higher enrollment and 4) less money per student in inflation adjusted dollars. What did it have? It had no excuses. It had quality leadership. And it didn't have a self proclaimed "reform" Board of Education.

Despite antidotes and unsubstantiated claims of “improvement” and “excellence” - try as they may- the Hoboken Board of Education, Superintendent Johnson, and the educational leadership and staff at Hoboken High School are failing to offer a quality secondary education as assessed by NJ Monthly for the students and families of Hoboken. Any claim otherwise is either made in ignorance, intentional misrepresentation, or magical thinking. 

This is what New Jersey Monthly had to say about Hoboken High School BEFORE a self proclaimed political group under the guise of "reform" took complete control of the Hoboken public schools....read what NJ Monthly had to say about Hoboken High School before the district was in the hands of "reform" and before it ever hired a public relations firm: 


NJ Monthly's 2008 Description of Hoboken HS under Non-Reform Leadership
CLICK TO ENLARGE 

Here is the complete list of NJ Monthly's 2018 rankings of NJ's Top Public High Schools





Sunday, November 11, 2018

Data Supported Accusations Concerning Leadership of the Hoboken Public School District

The following are a portion of the public comments that were made at the October 9, 2018 meeting of the Hoboken Board of Education by a former parent and concerned citizen as well as a response to the comments. The issue at hand relates around Black and Latino/a students in the Hoboken School District. 




TRANSCRIPT:

Citizen: Where does Hoboken Public School District Stack Up in a state that is the 6th most segregated school system in the country and the 4th most segregated amongst students with disabilities:
1.) The racial achievement gap is three times wider than the state average
2.) Connors Elementary school is the Jim Crow School and the Middle and High School uses classroom segregation and racial tracking.
3.) The District has failed every stress test in equity, student progress, and college and career readiness according to the NJ Department of Education and all third party assessments
4.) The District is cooking the books on high school graduation rates by abusing credit recovery and summer school to pass kids along from grade to grade without making up at least 2 years or more that were lost as result the district abandoning the Middle School for 7 years.
5.) The District is disproportionately classifying and using discipline punitively against low income black and Latino students by labeling them behaviorally impaired to get additional monies from the state and federal government. Students with special needs
can receive up to $60k in additional funding for services but instead the district places many of these students on home instruction for months at a time while the balance of the additional dollars allocated are redistributed to kids that aren’t entitled to it.
6.) Dr. Johnson stated in budget presentations that she would use ESEA grant money intended to support needy students, to fund afters chool programs at Brandt which didn’t have a single Black student in the incoming Kindergarten, has a 75%+ white student population, and a low income student population that is less than 5%.

Over the last two years:


Dr. Johnson lied to me about her support for a diversity inclusion committee at two NAACP meetings, several personal text messages, in person meetings, and emails. This was evident in her lack of follow through over a two year span, her lack of preparedness at in person meetings, her to decision marginalize my daughter’s experience, her half baked effort at creating a equity report that didn’t present an honest and thorough assessment of racial disparity data and her insistence on blaming the victim by claiming, on the public record, that race and class are the reasons for why Black and Brown children are failing and not the district. 

She also blamed the State of NJ for not accommodating a hyper segregated district by assigning different District Factor Groups to racially and socioeconomically different schoolsIn addition, Dr. Johnson lied about racial tracking. She has yet to answer the questions about the effectiveness of the home instruction program or how the district mitigates racial bias in classifying low income black and brown students. Dr. Johnson did not follow through on her recommendations in the equity report. In fact, it the Equity Report is not longer available on the website. Dr. Johnson is simply sending a message to all Black and Latino families that she doesn’t care about your child’s future.


Under Dr. Johnson the high school dropped another 40 spots on to the bottom 10% in performance state wide. The District failed again QSAC for the 8 the straight year in teacher instruction and programming And an overwhelming majority of low income Black and Latino students are still not reading, writing, and doing math grade level, let alone prepared for college or a career


The Board (of Education) rewarded Dr. Johnson’s atrocious record by giving her a 5 year extension after her first 2 years. This BOE continues to not be reflective of the entire student body. To this end, this BOE allowed members like John Madigan to make racist statements without accountability for referring to the black community as “The Coloreds” a derogatory racist term that hasn’t been used to describe the black community since the Civil Rights Era. You said nothing when the Teacher’s Union President Gary Enrico is allowed to use dog whistle racism to describe Black parents for demanding equity and a high quality education as “ Same Clowns different time”. You used a Black mother with an alleged open DYFS case to mock Black representation on the Board and use as a publicity stunt for your so called commitment to diversity and inclusion. Under the pressure, this Black mother lost her children and has allegedly been in jail since mid summer trying to fight for kids.


This BOE is intentionally destroying a vast majority of Black and Latino children’s lives by using them to get additional aid and grant money, discard them like trash, and then blame them for not persevering enough through systems of injustice. You are sadly mistaken if you think we are alone in wanting change and justice for the kids you refuse to represent.



Board President: Thank you——any comments in response?…..no— If there is no other business before the Board, is there a motion to adjoin? 

Board Trustee: Wait one second… I find it highly disgusting to get up to criticize and make lies about the superintendent up…and that…its not suppose to be that way. If you have facts about issues I would like—everyone would like to see them. But to get up and say stuff about the superintendent that just to say that is someone doesn’t like the superintendent, and had a bad experience and then just paints over the makes up lies and its suppose to be ok for us not to say anything. I’m a big boy, I can take anything coming. I was born and raised here before Hoboken was fashionable. I was here during riots, I was here when it was tough, I was here when they were burnt down- so, I don’t have to stick up for myself. But I’ll be dammed if I can going to sit here when the superintendent is being called all these lies and facts and its a disgusting thing - thats the end of the statement 

Gavel 

voice from audience

Board President: No, the public comment section is over, thank you — motion to adjoin? 

Motion to ajoin 

Meeting ends 




Friday, November 2, 2018

2018 Mathematics PARCC Scores for Hoboken High School and Middle School Released- Bottom 4% in 7th and 8th Grade Mathematics, Bottom 7% in Algebra I

The 2018 New Jersey PARCC scores were released earlier this month. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a consortium of states that collaboratively developed a common set of assessments to measure student achievement and preparedness for college and careers. A full analysis is forthcoming but here are the scores for Middle and High School Mathematics for the Hoboken School District. 

7th Grade Mathematics Score: 721 Rank: 485 out of 505 NJ Schools 
8th Grade Mathematics Score: 701 Rank: 454 out of 473 NJ Schools 
Algebra I Score: 722 Rank: 472 out of 509 NJ Schools 
Geometry Score: 720 Rank: 280 out of 332 NJ Schools 
Algebra II Score: 714 Rank: 214 out of 315 NJ Schools 

These scores triangulate with past years PARCC scores as well as a recent low ranking of Hoboken High School by the New Jersey Department of Education in which the school scored a 22.7 out of 100 and ranked in the 17th percentile of high schools in the state and 8 straight years of failing the NJDOE QSAC monitoring in the Instruction and Program DPR. It should be noted these results do not occur for lack of financial support for the traditional Hoboken Public Schools (see Figure 1 below). 

Summary: the Hoboken School District Mathematics PARCC scores for 7th grade through high school are far below state average. How low is actually noteworthy. The District  schools now rank in the lower 4% of NJ schools in 7th and 8th Grade Mathematics, the bottom 7% in Algebra I, the bottom 16% in Geometry, and in the lower 33% for Algebra II for 2018.   


Analysis: With the results of the most recent PARCC test released earlier this month and corresponding triangulated data, it is reasonable to state that white, black, and hispanic students as well as free and reduced lunch (FRL) and non-free and reduced lunch students are all significantly and adversely impacted by the mathematics education in grades 7 through 12 offered in the Hoboken Public Schools. 


Figure 1- 2017 Hudson County per Pupil Spending

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hoboken High School Scores a 22.7 out of 100 on New Jersey Department of Education Rating System- 17th percentile in the State of New Jersey

Hoboken High School, Hoboken NJ 
In January of 2018, a new rating system devised by the New Jersey Department of Education and in compliance with federal laws, assigned a score to all 2000 of New Jersey's public schools with a score of 1 to 100 with 100 being highest. Unfortunately, the scores are not part of the summary reports and are instead embedded in the more detailed school report of each school. This overall 1-100 score combines standardized test results, graduation rates, and chronic absenteeism

The New Jersey Department of Education said it designed the new ratings to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act, the new federal education law that replaced No Child Left Behind

The law requires states to "meaningfully differentiate" schools' performance based on a variety of metrics and publish that information on school report cards, said Julie Woods, a policy analyst for the Education Commission of the States, which tracks state policy. 

How did Hoboken High School do? 

Hoboken High School received an overall score of 22.7 out of 100. This score placed the school at the 17th percentile in the State of New Jersey. This is a school with an 8:1 Student Teacher Ratio and high per student spending.


Click to Enlarge 

Before the week is over, we will report on the scores of all the public schools in Hoboken as per special request from readers.









Wednesday, October 24, 2018

NJDOE Proficiency Disparities Between Black and White Students and Economically Advantaged and Non-advantaged Students at Hoboken High School

The New Jersey Performance Report is released yearly and contains data of every  from the New Jersey Department of Education on the latest data from Hoboken High School. Notice the disparity between black and white students and between economically distressed and non-distressed students. 


Click to Enlarge
Specifically, there were 24 students classified as "White", 108 students classified as "Hispanic" and 31 students classified as "Black" according to data by the NJ Department of Education on the NJ Performance Report. Only 36% of ALL students Met or Exceeded Expectations for the entire school. When we look at the subgroups, 62.5 percent (15 students) of the White students Met or Exceeded Expectations, 37.1% (or 40 students) of the Hispanic students Met or Exceeded Expectations, and 12.9% (or 4 students) of the Black students Met or Exceeded Expectations. 

Most telling, while the percentage of White and Hispanic students Meeting or Exceeding Expectations are roughly on par with State expectations (White: Hoboken: 62.9% vs State: 63.90%--- Hispanic Hoboken: 37.1% vs State: 36.6%) the percentages for Black students are nearly 3X lower (Hoboken: 12.9% vs State: 35.2%). 

The proficiency rates based on social economic status are also revealing. An examination of the data indicates that the proficiency rate for economically disadvantaged students is half of the proficiency rate for non-disadvantaged students. When we look at the subgroups, 28.4 percent (34 students) of the Economically Disadvantaged students Met or Exceeded Expectations while  56.9% (25 students) of the Non-Economically Disadvantaged students Met or Exceeded Expectations. Both of these numbers are below State averages meaning BOTH Economically Disadvantaged students and Non-Economically Disadvantaged students at Hoboken High School are performing below State of New Jersey averages in their respective categories. 

An increasing number of people are beginning to see disparities between Black students and the general population as well as the general overall lack of proficiency across socio economic strata and are raising reasonable concerns. 





Monday, October 22, 2018

Norman Atkins, Education Reformer, Founder of Relay Graduate School of Education, Uncommon Schools, and One of the Winners of the 23rd Heinz Awards Honorees

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One of the trappings that our administrators at the Hola Dual Language School in Hoboken, NJ have been receiving over the past few years has been this program by the Relay Graduate School of Education. Both the program and its founder have received national recognition recently. Here is a story many might find interesting concerning Norman Atkins and his recognition as a recipient of the 2018 Heinz Award. -Dr. Petrosino 

Established by Teresa Heinz to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Heinz Awards celebrates his accomplishments and spirit by recognizing the extraordinary achievements of individuals in the areas of greatest importance to him

Of special note is an award given to an educational reformer: Norman Atkins, education reformeris recognized for pioneering new education and teacher training models that are affecting dramatic, positive change in educational achievement among low-income student populations, and for co-founding the Relay Graduate School of Education, the first major redesign of teacher preparation in this country in decades.

After observing public school and small, community school classrooms in New York City in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods with the Robin Hood Foundation, Mr. Atkins founded Uncommon Schools (Link 1, Link 2, Link 3) an organization that establishes and manages urban schools that prepare low-income children for college.

Seeing a disconnect between how education schools are preparing aspiring teachers, and what teachers need to know to be successful in the classroom, Mr. Atkins went on to co-found the Relay Graduate School of Education, a title that refers to the idea that it takes a relay of highly effective teachers to put a child on a positive academic and life trajectory.

The Relay approach differs from traditional teacher education in that it thoughtfully integrates theory and practice, immersing aspiring and early career teachers in PK-12 classrooms, and providing them with intensive feedback. Graduate students engage in teaching sessions that allow them to deliver lessons, receive guidance on how they can improve their approach, then repeat their session, applying what they have learned from faculty master teachers.

To graduate, Relay students must deliver measurable results in the classroom and prove they’ve helped their students master the year’s academic content.

This past school year, Relay trained 3,000 current and aspiring teachers and 750 school leaders nationwide. On average, the children taught by Relay students average 1.3 years of growth in reading in a single year.

At a time when enrollment in teacher preparatory programs is declining — a factor in teacher shortages nationwide — Mr. Atkins ensures that Relay is marking a 40 percent increase year-over-year in its teacher and principal training programs, and attracts a diverse teacher workforce.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Concerns About the Civil Rights of Hoboken Children from March 2016

Investigations and claims of  civil rights violations and racial segregation in the Hoboken School District have been going on for a number of years. In addition to investigations being conducted by the State of New Jersey's Attorney General's Office, litigation initiated by organizations interested in the civil rights of African American students, and concerned and interested parents and community members, there were concerns articulated at Board meetings in March of 2016. Here is an interesting video taken from the March 8, 2016 Board of Education meeting where a concerned citizen speaks about the civil rights of the students of Hoboken and the role of the Board of Education and Superintendent Johnson. At the time, the district was involved in a lawsuit the district initiated against the New Jersey Department of Education and a charter school in Hoboken. Its an interesting video to watch. I have also included a transcript of the address to the Board for closer examination of the finer points of the argument. -Dr. Petrosino



https://youtu.be/BRHdTVjse3M

00:07 never thought I would stand up here I
00:09 talk to you my name is Alexandra kim and
00:12 i live at 928 willow out my family is
00:16 relatively new to hoboken we moved here
00:18 less than three years ago and we're in
00:19 certain about the reputation of the
00:21 schools but to our delight our boys have
00:24 flourished in the public pre-k in
00:26 district schools we have met the most
00:28 wonderful families and kids along the
00:30 way and as they have moved on to
00:31 different schools we have wish nothing
00:33 but the best for them and their families
00:35 and so we felt very ambivalent about the
00:39 lawsuit between the district and a local
00:41 charter school we fell uncomfortable
00:43 about the political and financial costs
00:45 the silence from civic leaders and the
00:47 impact and local elections but lately I
00:51 have felt troubled by the political
00:52 gaming outside and inside the sport and
00:55 so I decided to read up on the issues
00:57 and here's what I learned at the heart
01:01 of this case a charter school has asked
01:03 the state for permission to renew and
01:05 expand its charter the school has the
01:07 burden to show that this would not
01:09 exacerbate segregation in the district
01:12 segregative effect is essentially a
01:15 civil rights question and it's legal
01:17 question and I believe we need the
01:19 courts to help us figure this out here
01:22 are three reasons why as residents we
01:25 should be interested in whether public
01:27 monies provide equal educational
01:29 opportunities to students regardless of
01:31 race income or status as a former Abbot
01:34 district we cannot enjoy a free public
01:37 pre-k at the same time as preventing
01:40 equal protection questions from going to
01:42 the court hoboken has free public pre-k
01:45 as a result of the abbot lawsuits which
01:48 ask similar questions as this case to
01:51 remedy the segregation that the court
01:53 found it permitted funding for public
01:55 pre-k and certain urban districts
01:57 including ours public pre-k is enjoyed
02:00 by many families in this town including
02:02 the children of non district school
02:05 leaders as parents we are two divided
02:08 and emotionally invested in a certain
02:10 answer
02:11 in our country it is the courts that
02:13 clarify our understanding of civil
02:16 rights and then hoboken we have never
02:18 needed this more than though to be clear
02:21 no one is calling for schools to be
02:23 closed or calling anybody what's it
02:25 rather we are asking for a neutral party
02:28 to answer these hard questions for us
02:32 secondly I wanted to address the
02:34 embarrassing antics at the last board of
02:37 education meeting I expect that there
02:40 will be a difference of opinion and
02:42 values among this board but when the
02:44 interests of this district students
02:46 conflict with outside interests the code
02:48 of ethics makes it clear which takes
02:51 priority the code also dictates that
02:54 board members do not take private
02:56 actions that would compromise the board
02:58 so here's another way of looking at it
03:00 when you play for the Yankees but root
03:02 for the other team and provide them with
03:04 inside strategy then no one will trust
03:07 you will want to play with you will want
03:09 to hire you and certainly no one
03:11 watching the game will like you the code
03:14 of ethics not only exists to protect the
03:17 interests of our district children but
03:19 also to protect your public and
03:21 professional reputation you can advocate
03:24 for any group of children but you cannot
03:26 do so from that chair if this is too
03:28 difficult for you that I know some
03:30 highly qualified people who can serve a
03:32 district children wholeheartedly I want
03:36 to say this as nicely as possible but
03:38 you need to get your act together we are
03:40 talking about the civil rights of
03:42 children and any reasonably intelligent
03:45 person we know that political gaming is
03:47 inappropriate most of us in our family
03:51 histories have experienced being the
03:53 other for many families in hoboken that
03:56 struggle is still very real today I call
03:59 on school leaders to act sensitively and
04:02 model integrity around issues of civil
04:05 rights in our community thank you to the
04:07 majority of the board who have refrained
04:09 from political gaming and who have acted
04:12 at great personal cost to defend the
04:14 civil rights of children in our district
04:16 thank you
04:18 you





Friday, October 12, 2018

October 9, 2018 Hoboken Board of Education Agenda

The following is the full detailed Agenda for the October 9, 2018 Hoboken Board of Education Meeting. Excerpts from various speakers are also included. The full video of the meeting can be accessed by clicking HERE.








Public portion of the October 9, 2018 meeting where concerns about the district are presented by a citizen.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Official Release: Hoboken Mayor Bhalla Announces $4.5 million in Community Givebacks from Hotel Developer

Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Hoboken Public Education Foundation members
October 9, 2018 
From Hobokennj.gov: Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla announced on Tuesday an agreement with the City of Hoboken and KMS Development Partners regarding plans to develop a hotel in Hoboken.
As part of the agreement, KMS Development Partners will make $4.5 million investments into the Hoboken community and have committed to various pro-Hoboken staffing and operational priorities.
“These community give-backs are real progress for our City,” said Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “It is my intention that this agreement shall serve as a model for all future deals. I am putting developers on notice: if you want the opportunity to do business in our City, we expect union labor and we expect generous community give-backs.”
Community givebacks include $1 million in road and infrastructure upgrades, a $1 million endowment for the Hoboken Public Education Foundation to support the public school system, $100,000 to each of Hoboken’s three charter Schools, $200,000 for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and $2 million to go towards revitalizing the Hoboken Community Center. The vision for the Center includes re-opening the public pool and providing space to expand the district’s pre-K program, which currently has a wait list, and open the uptown branch of the Hoboken Public Library.
“The Hoboken Board of Education expresses appreciation to the City of Hoboken for keeping our students in mind during the negotiations that resulted in this agreement,” said Board of Education Vice President Sharyn Angley. “We are grateful that the steering committee of the Hoboken Community Center recognizes the long-term significance of early childhood education in our community and we look forward to working together. Lastly, we applaud and thank KMS Development Partners for their generosity towards the Hoboken Public Education Foundation and its long-term commitment to the vitality of our Hoboken Community.”
Furthermore, all hotel jobs, from construction to operation, will be union jobs with Hoboken residents receiving hiring preference. The hotel is projected to employ about 170 people, once operational, create an additional 280 jobs in the community, and add $5 million to the local economy per year.
"As the union for hotel workers, the Hotel Trades Council is extremely proud to support this hotel and this redevelopment plan,” said Rich Maroko, Vice President of the Hotel Trades Union. “This hotel, in addition to being a fantastic new amenity for Hoboken residents and visitors, will be a source of many high quality, permanent jobs in this community.”
“As Mayor, I am committed to economic development that benefits not only the business owners but also provides good, living-wage jobs for all workers,” said Bhalla. “Union labor is the backbone of the nation’s economy, Hoboken’s success was built by union workers, and we will not forget where we come from. As a part of this redevelopment agreement, I have made sure that a portion of future hotel, unionized jobs, be set aside for Hoboken residents because our residents deserve the opportunity to work for wages that can support themselves and their families.”
Additionally, the rooftop bar, with views of the Manhattan skyline, will be open to the public no less than 300 days per year.
Click to Enlarge 
The agreement will now go before the Hoboken City Council for approval on October 17.
Click to Enlarge





Official Press Release: City Council Responds to 50% Increase To Community Giveback From Hoboken Hilton Project

City Council Responds to 50% Increase To Community Giveback From Hoboken Hilton Project

October 9, 2018
“We are happy to see that collaboration with the mayor and the developer has resulted in a 50% increase in the community give back to $4.5 million and that the scope has been expanded to include critical infrastructure, affordable housing, and charter schools.  Additionally, KMS also committed today to fund immediately the much needed feasibility study to officially launch the restoration project for the former YMCA so that it can be shovel-ready when the remainder of the give back is paid after the hotel opens.  This is what is possible when our city works together.”

Contact:

Councilman Peter Cunningham                  201-562-7071
Councilman Mike DeFusco                         646-372-4341
Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher                    201-208-1674
Council Vice-President Jen Giattino           201-780-6779
Council President Ruben Ramos               201-401-7947
On Mon, Oct 8, 2018 at 10:00 AM Tiffanie Fisher <hoboken2nd@gmail.com> wrote:


Official Press Release: Hoboken City Council Subcommittee Responds to Mayor’s Proposed Changes to Hoboken Hilton Project

Hoboken, NJ (October 8, 2018) – The Hoboken City Council subcommittee, tasked with evaluating the proposed Hilton Hotel project, was briefed for the first time recently with the revised plans for the hotel that have tentatively been agreed by Mayor Bhalla and KMS, the developer.  The modifications include changing the overall architectural feel of the project by adding three more stories to the plan that the mayor announced in April and 20% more bulk and square footage than what was previously approved in 2017 by the City Council which the mayor (then councilman) opposed.  In exchange for this increase, KMS will provide $3 million in cash to Hoboken for community benefits which currently have been earmarked by the mayor to two, private non-profits.  The mayor is expected to ask the City Council to approve these changes at the October 17th meeting.  Although the members of the subcommittee each individually support the efforts of the selected non-profits, they are issuing this joint statement in regards to their concerns.
“The City Council subcommittee has long advocated for and remains in support of a hotel development that brings tax revenue, job creation, economic development and vibrancy to Hoboken while respecting neighborhood and community concerns.   However, our city’s infrastructure issues are front page news, our main street has suffered from under investment and management, and our low and moderate income residents are being displaced every day.  It is critical that major development projects like this are both sensitive to the surrounding environments and provide benefits and relief to these issues which the Mayor’s proposal fails to do.  The subcommittee is committed to working together with all stakeholders to address and overcome these challenges.”
Mayor Bhalla’s proposal falls short of these needs by limiting the allocation of the $3 million to two private foundations:  $1 million to fund the endowment for the Hoboken Public Education Foundation (“HPEF”) which raises private money to invest in our public schools, and $2 million to the Hoboken Community Center (“HCC”), for the potential restoration of the former YMCA.  These are both great organizations that benefit the community, but given the size of the community benefit fee of $3 million, the subcommittee has questions about the narrow focus of these large contributions, the lack of any public process, the fact that the use of the funds will not be directed by any elected officials (mayor, school board or City Council), and that offsets to the myriad of near-term financial commitments to be paid by taxpayers were not considered.
The subcommittee recommends broadening the scope of the $3 million while still including both HPEF and HCC as recipients by:  supporting the education mandate but expand to include all public schools including charter schools; allocating a significant amount into the city’s Capital Fund and dedicate those funds specifically for planned infrastructure improvements and other large scale capital projects like the Multi Service Center, Northwest Park and the proposed HCC when their plans are finalized; and contributing to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund which has been underfunded for years.  Additionally, the City Council requests KMS to contribute $75,000 directly to HCC at the onset of construction (expected to be in early 2019), as opposed to after the hotel opens in ~2-3 years, so that HCC can fund its much needed feasibility study as soon as possible.
“As many know, the mayor has already communicated with each HPEF and HCC about his proposed contributions which has already made for a strained and divided community dialogue.  It is unfortunate that he chose a path of excluding both the governing body, who will need to vote on the proposal, and the public in this critical decision for our community.  This is a bad precedent for Hoboken that the City Council hopes to make better by encouraging public input.”
The full City Council will convene on Wednesday October 17th to hear the issue.
Councilman Peter Cunningham                      201-562-7071
Councilman Mike DeFusco                             646-372-4341
Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher                         201-208-1674
Council Vice-President Jen Giattino               201-780-6779
Council President Ruben Ramos                    201-401-7947

Sunday, October 7, 2018

While a Possible Million Dollar Addition to an Educational Fund for Public Education in Hoboken is Announced, a Community Debates Whether Charter Schools Should be Included or Excluded

Columbus Park- Hoboken, NJ
Every good deed or intention seems to have unintended consequences. How should development money targeted for educational improvement best be utilized? That is the question quickly developing in Hoboken, NJ as city leaders and developers work together to figure out how to best help the children of this mile square city. 

Hoboken Main Post Office- 1933
As part of a major hotel and business construction project near the NY/NJ PATH subway station, there is going to be a community giveback of almost $3 million dollars.  These givebacks are not uncommon and is one way that large development projects work with city leaders to improve the community beyond the immediate impact of the specific proposed project. 

It was recently announced that approximately $1 million of this giveback will be directed toward an endowment managed by the Hoboken Public Education Fund, a non-profit organization for the Hoboken district public school system (see picture below).  As currently proposed, it is unclear if charter schools in Hoboken will be included or left out of this generous pool of money for community improvement.

Hoboken's three charter schools ARE public schools.  However, due to accountability issues established by the New Jersey Department of Education, each charter school is considered its own “district.” For many practical concerns, the three charters function as small sized neighborhood schools.  

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Charter students take the same standardized tests as the district.  They follow all of the same educational rules and regulations set by the New Jersey Department of Education.  Their doors are open to all students who apply, and admission is strictly based on a public lottery, with a preference for low-income students and English language learners.  Like all public schools in New Jersey, charters serve students who have learning disabilities and special needs.

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A major disparity is in how these schools are funded. In Hoboken, the traditional public schools are funded primarily via the Board of Education which has the ability to raise needed educational funds via taxation. Charter schools depend on an involved statewide calculation. Importantly, in Hoboken per pupil costs must include rental fees for the use of educational and recreational facilities. 

Much of a district's budget is committed to salaries and benefits on a percentage basis than instructional resources and programs. Every non-profit could use extra money in times of fiscal restraint and that includes public schools. 


The coming weeks promise to be exciting as education in general and public education specifically will no doubt be part of a wider discussion. 


Breaking: Mile Square View reports that the Hoboken City Council Subcommittee Responds to proposed changes on Hotel project and recommends broadening the scope of the $3 million: READ HERE

Some Possible Things to Do in Order to Have Your Voice Heard

1     E-mail your city council members (individual emails here: https://www.hobokennj.gov/departments/city-council) and tell them what you think

2     Come out to the press conference that will be held on Tuesday morning 10/9 at 10:00am at 1300 Washington Street to learn more details


3     Attend the Wednesday, October 17 Council Meeting  at 7:00 pm at City Hall (94 Washington Street) to tell your elected officials your thoughts on an endowment for the public schools of Hoboken.