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.
School Board Member