Playground of their own

BelovED Community Charter School competes for playground funding

“Help us win a new playground for our school,” said former Mayor Bret Schundler, as he and Mayor Steven Fulop joined teachers and students handing out flyers during the morning rush to the PATH at Journal Square.
Somewhat reminiscent of political campaigning, the two mayors tried to get people to take a flyer that would help BelovED Community Charter School win a regional competition funding a new playground.
Some people recognized Fulop, even pausing to say they had voted for him in 2013, but many just passed by. Fulop, who had done this before in campaigns, joked that he’s used to it.
“They didn’t take the flyer from me [meaning back when he did this to get elected], but it’s harder for them not to take the flyers from the kids,” he said.
Although Schundler has been out of office for more than a decade, some people recognized him as he handed out the flyer. Some even remembered him from the days when he played sports in Hudson County, and in the midst of the morning hubbub traded old sports stories with him.

“We’re using sweat equity here to get free money for residents of Jersey City.” – Steven Fulop
But Schundler struggled to keep to the point, saying while the school provided a good education at $10,500 per student as opposed to the $23,000 it costs to educate students in regular public schools, this did not leave a lot money to develop things like playgrounds.
“One of our teachers found this contest being run by a company that makes recycled products,” Schundler said. “I’m sure the company wants to get its name out, but the school that wins gets a $50,000 playground for free.”
The school, located at 508 Grand St. in Jersey City, currently doesn’t have a playground, and if the school wins, the playground would be constructed on the school property out of recycled tooth paste tubes.

Jersey City school leads in votes

BelovED is competing with a number of schools throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. The winner will be the school that gets the most online votes by June 30 – and BelovED is currently in the lead.
“We’re 6,000 votes ahead of a school in the Mid-Jersey,” Schundler said. “But we’re not taking it for granted.”
Schundler, who is considered the father of charter schools in New Jersey, found himself confronted with questions about the charter school concept.
BelovED has a five star rating from the national organization,
“Our school is doing well,” he told one commuter. “Those that don’t do well, close.”
Fulop said he supported the campaign to win the playground because it brought in money to Jersey City to provide a resource for students.
“We’re using sweat equity here to get free money for residents of Jersey City,” he said. “And since this is something built out of recycled materials, it is also a good lesson for our students about the environment.”
Schundler said people can vote once a day for the school, and won’t be hassled by commercial emails by voting. Anyone wishing to vote should go to

Al Sullivan may be reached at