High costs, low performance, poor vision in schools mean it’s time for new leadership on board

Dear Editor:
Our school board plays a crucial role in our community – it sets the “tone at the top” for every aspect of our educational system. So, if the board is not doing its job, it is both our right and our responsibility to elect a new board that can and will.
The current state of the school district is shameful. Question: How can a district that spends so much per student – $25,000 this year – rank so low in performance? Question: Why are we spending more money administering than educating? Question: Why is outreach to the community minimal to non-existent, missing a great opportunity to leverage our parents and others in the educational process? Question: Why has almost every new/supplemental/innovative district program – Senior Prep Day, Saturday U, and even HoLa – claimed by the administration as its own actually been created, improved, researched and/or promoted at the instigation of parents and regular citizens? Question: Why did the proposed 2009-10 budget trumpet a drop in per student cost and taxes when simple math shows that most of the spending decrease represents a drop in per student state aid and the rest is from a hypothetical 100 more students that the administration is counting on? (The share of the budget footed by Hoboken taxpayers remains virtually the same.) The answer to each question is simple: The board majority holds hearings without listening and votes without self-sacrifice, and the administration lacks vision and acts without blueprints.
The upcoming school board election presents an incredible opportunity to begin the process of change in our district. Voting for the Kids First slate of Theresa Minutillo, Maureen Sullivan and Ruth McAllister on April 21 means that you will help create a board willing to engage all stakeholders, not just those it likes, in developing a comprehensive plan for our schools. The guardians of our children’s education should not spend their time making excuses, looking for silver bullets and posturing without producing. Board positions should not be sought for the visibility they provide, the connections they can produce and the boost they can give to political careers. Budgets should not go up while educational quality goes down. But until we elect a board that understands its priorities, get an administration that accepts its responsibility for the state of our educational system and advocate for a district that listens to the community, we will not own our future, nor will we deserve anything but what we have now.

Kai Rebane

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