Thursday, April 21, 2011

Letter to the Editor in the Hoboken Reporter- Kids First stretches the truth, in listing “accomplishments”

The following Letter to the Editor was published by The Hoboken Reporter on April 17, 2011. It is written by Hoboken Board of Education trustee Maureen Sullivan. Trustee Sullivan is most identified as an advocate for fiscal responsibility, open and transparent governance and for having a commitment to academic excellence.

Board Member Sullivan challenges Kids First, a political group who currently hold a majority of seats on the Hoboken Board of Education, on a number of claims made in a recent political ad including:
  1. the fact that there are no new textbooks in the classrooms despite claims that new textbooks were obtained
  2. failure to provide AP classes in the high school despite claims there would be
  3. failure to reduce the tax levy despite claims it would be reduced
  4. disappointment/frustration that Kids First failed to recognize the many contributions of fellow non-Kids First Board of Education members who participated in the exhaustive search for a new superintendent of schools.
What follows is the full text of Ms. Sullivan's letter.

Dear Editor:

I was very surprised to see the Kids First campaign ad (April 10, 2011) tout "accomplishments" that have not even come before the school board for our consideration. I am not backing or endorsing any candidates in this election, but as a board member I could not let these statements go unchallenged.

They say they have given teachers new math and science textbooks. Wrong. While the curriculum committee has been studying various options, as of that ad no new books have been voted on by the board let alone purchased or made their way into classrooms.

They say they added Advanced Placement courses at Hoboken High. Wrong. After killing the International Baccalaureate program in last year's budget, the board has not been presented with anything more than a resolution in December to "begin investigating training options and course planning" for an AP program down the road.

They say they have created a long-range facilities upgrade plan for the district. Wrong. Just last week Superintendent Mark Toback told the board that "discussions were held with the finance committee to outline the process of developing a six-year capital plan." That's right, discussions to outline a process. They say they have reduced the tax levy. Wrong. The tax levy to be voted on this month is flat this year and was flat last year. A flat tax levy - not a reduction - was the stated goal of Kids First last year and this year. In her letter to the editor, incumbent candidate Jean Marie Mitchell says "in previous years school taxes were consistently increased by a maximum of 4 percent each year." Wrong. That never happened. According to our most recent audit, school tax rates remained almost completely flat for the past decade, until 2010. Last year, in the first budget under Kids First, our school tax rate did go up, from 1.176 to 1.199 per $100 of assessed value, an increase of 1.95 percent.

Most importantly, I take exception to the notion that Kids First hired Dr. Toback as our new superintendent. Our entire board (including former members Carrie Gilliard and Jimmy Farina) worked from the summer of 2009 through many ups and downs to get to the point where Dr. Toback came on board last month after a unanimous vote by all nine trustees.

Maureen Sullivan

School Board Member

Picture: Hoboken Board of Education Trustee Maureen Sullivan

No comments: