Vote 3,5,6 to put a halt to runaway school taxes

Dear Editor:
There is no other way to put it: the Hoboken school district spends too much money and expects us – the taxpayers – to foot the bill. Once again, the district is going over the 2 percent cap because there aren’t enough voices on the school board who want to halt the overspending.
Let’s look at the numbers the district publishes on its website. The cost per pupil in the district schools is $23,521 this year. That’s one of the highest amounts of any district in NJ. Why so high? The district lists five reasons, including higher salaries, growing special education costs and new programs. There is also a mention of nine new teaching positions at the high school. According to figures from the state Department of Education, the enrollment in grades 9-12 at Hoboken High has dropped from a high of 575 in 2010-11 to 458 in 2015-6. The district continues to hire even as enrollment falls. Is it any wonder spending is out of control?
The number one reason identified for jacking up taxes is “increase in charter school payments.” Most of that increase of $629,605 is for another class at Hola Dual Language Charter as it expands to eighth grade. This is the expansion that the school board has been fighting in court for years because several members believe in choice for their own children, but not for everyone else.
The district spells out what the state says it must spend to cover the cost of each Hoboken resident child enrolled at a charter school: $12,012. You would think that the school board, while looking out for us taxpayers, would shout yippee. Every child the district educates costs more than $23,000, while the charters get $11,000 less for each child. Our taxes would go even higher if those kids went to district schools.
Yes, the district has more costs than the charters do: the football field, the chemistry labs and the exorbitant tuition for disabled children at private schools, to name a few. Of course, nearly every district in the state has those costs as well and yet they can hold spending to a level well below Hoboken’s. I spent nearly four years as a member of the school board and I could never get a good answer out of any administrator on why Hoboken’s per-pupil expenditure is sky high: $9,000 more than Ridgewood and about $5,000 more than Jersey City, for example.
When I was on the board we avoided raising your school taxes every year. But the administrators relentlessly lean on board members to raise taxes at least as high as the cap and even over that. Since I left the board in 2013, taxes have gone up every year.
There is one clear choice for school board. Jessica Nelson, Jennifer Rossini and Francis “Chipper” Benway (lines 3, 5 and 6) are fiscal conservatives who won’t be rubber stamps for administrators who really couldn’t care less about keeping our taxes manageable. I’m voting for them on Election Day.
Maureen Sullivan
Former School Board Member

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