Hoboken schools superintendent leaving in August

After a three and a half years leading the Hoboken public schools, Schools Superintendent Mark Toback was named superintendent of the Wayne public schools by the Wayne Board of Education on Thursday night. He starts there on Aug. 11, according to the Record.
Hoboken had experienced frequent turnover in superintendents until Toback’s stewardship.
As Gov. Chris Christie has put a cap on salaries for superintendents, there is not often a huge monetary advantage in hopping from district to district. Toback will earn the maximum $177,000 per year in the new district.
According to the Record article, Toback said he’s looking forward to moving to a larger district. Wayne has about 8,500 students compared with Hoboken’s 2,500.”
Toback has been in the middle of several controversies while at the helm. In the past year, members of the Kids First school board majority, who are allied with Toback, opposed the expansion of a dual-language charter school in Hoboken. Toback and members of the board majority have spoken out against the charter school funding formula and issues related to charter schools in Hoboken, including saying that the schools end up causing some racial segregation in Hoboken. However, the other public schools also have notable demographic differences.
Toback was also at the helm in 2011 during a controversy over whether to give tenure to a popular theater teacher.
Toback’s supporters say there have been improvements in test scores and curriculum during his tenure. In fact, Toback issued a letter on the district website this year saying, in part:
“I am thrilled to announce that this year, 93 percent of our students were proficient on the language arts literacy section of the New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA). This result is, by far, the best we have achieved on the HSPA in a very long time—and maybe the best HSPA scores ever achieved in this district. Although our scores remained flat in the area of mathematics, we were able to match our 61 percent proficiency level from last year—still the highest mathematics proficiency percentage achieved in this district for quite some time.”
The Hoboken Board of Education will meet this coming Tuesday.
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Mayor appoints provisional police chief

The city of Hoboken announced late on Wednesday that Mayor Dawn Zimmer is appointing Captain Edelmiro “Eddie” Garcia as Hoboken’s provisional chief of police effective July 1, 2014, while the city interviews candidates to take over the job permanently.
Hoboken’s current Police Chief Anthony Falco is retiring on June 30, 2014.
Garcia is the Hoboken Police Division’s most senior captain, having served as captain since 1995.
“I thank Chief Falco for his many years of service and dedication to our community and wish him a happy retirement,” said Mayor Zimmer. “During his time as police chief, crime in Hoboken has reached and remained at historic lows. I thank Captain Garcia for stepping up and taking on this new role as our Police Department undergoes this important transition.”
On June 2, 2014, numerous captains and lieutenants took the civil service police chief test. The test results are expected in several months. Following an interview process, Mayor Zimmer will appoint a permanent chief.

Georgia man wins eighth annual Sinatra Idol contest

Gabriel Russo, 60, of Dahlonega, Ga., who remembers spending summers visiting with his grandparents on Park Avenue in Hoboken as a child, was crowned winner of the eighth annual Sinatra Idol Contest on Thursday, June 12 at the DeBaun Auditorium at the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Russo won in a sing-off over Charles Stayduhar Jr. of Pittsburgh, Pa., after the two had tied following judges’ voting. Russo’s rendition of “Come Fly with Me” clinched the victory for him.
Thirteen others competed, including the contest’s first ever woman entrant. In addition to Georgia, the performers hailed from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Florida.
Contestants representing Hudson County were Humphrey Uddoh of Jersey City and Joe Vozzella of Bayonne.
Guttenberg’s Mario Cruz, last year’s winner, began the evening with a performance and passed the trophy on to the 2014 winner. – Joseph Passantino

Third-Tuesday-of-the-Month Bird Walk is Tuesday

This free two-hour guided nature walk will take place at Laurel Hill County Park in Secaucus on Tuesday, June 17. Participants will meet at the big parking lot by the Laurel Hill ball fields at 10 a.m. and look for common ravens, shorebirds, herons, nesting ospreys, and more. The walk is sponsored by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) and the Bergen County Audubon Society (BCAS). Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants will have to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To RSVP, contact Don Torino of the BCAS or call (201) 230-4983.

Meadowlands solstice celebration for seniors held June 19

Celebrate the longest day of the year – the summer solstice. On Thursday, June 19 at 7 p.m., join a discussion about why the solstice is so long, and enjoy sun tea, cookies, and a surprise craft or two. Bring your grandchildren. Pre-registration is required. Call (201) 777-2431 to register. This free event takes place at the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst.

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