In two short years, the Kids First team has made great strides in reforming and improving our public school system. It is impossible to wave a magic wand and reverse decades of patronage and mismanagement. Through attrition, the BOE went from over 500 employees to 406, a decline of over 20 percent. Not one teaching position has been eliminated. This has reduced our once top heavy system. They have absorbed $5 million in state aid cuts, yet have cut the school tax levy each of the last 2 years, a savings of 8 percent. They have revamped the food service and auditing procedures saving the taxpayer even more money. For the first time Hoboken has a written curriculum. Yes its true – Hoboken never had a written curriculum until Kids First took control of the board.
The nonresident policy has been strictly enforced. The costly IB program was graduating only one person per year on average. The new AP program should increase student participation.
Most exciting is the addition of the lap top program that now covers two grades. The plan is to increase participation each year. In the future there will be little need for textbooks as programs can be loaded directly into the lap top further trimming costs. We now have new textbooks and science kits for the first time in 12 years. For our special needs students there are now three educational consultants to help their education progress. They are now expanding John Hopkins and will develop a gifted and talented program. The audits are now read in public after being hidden behind closed doors as was done in the past. It makes more sense to utilize scarce resources on our children, rather than on a bloated bureaucracy. All this has led to the hiring of our new Superintendent Dr. Mark Toback. Dr. Toback comes from Sussex County where he turned around a struggling Vo Tech High School. Within five years they had a waiting list. Unfortunately there is a minimum spending level determined by a NJ state formula that actually prevents Kids First from lowering the levy by $1.
This year’s slate is headed by Jean Marie Mitchell. Jean Marie has been tireless in attending every Board and subcommittee meeting. This is something one of her opponents does not do. She has shown her commitment to the public schools as her son Andrew (now at Hoboken High) has been educated through it.
Steve Feinstein has experience by serving for four years on the Board of the Elysian Charter School and before that, on the Parent Committee of the HOPES Head Start program. His daughter is now attending Hoboken High as well.
Clifford Godfrey a Stevens graduate is now the parent of a young daughter. He also is committed to having his child go to public school. This is his main reason for wishing to serve. His daughter’s education is paramount to him. His experience in the Newark Housing Authority will aid him on the board.