On Nov 8 Hoboken residents will not only elect a person to the highest office in America, but also three new Board of Education members. Several controversial issues have been discussed during the race: A charter school lawsuit, programs, test scores.
Six candidates are vying for three seats of three-year terms on the nine-member board and are separated into two tickets; the Forward Together slate and Parents United.
Sheillah Dallara and incumbents Jennifer Evans and Irene Sobolov are the Forward Together slate. Francis Benway, Jessica Neslon, and Jennifer Rossini are Parents United.
The Hoboken Board of Education oversees the $69.7 million school budget (partially paid for by property taxes) and can vote on personnel, curriculum, and programs.
“I don’t believe 12-year-olds should be around 17-year-olds.” – Jennifer Rossini
All candidates said they would support Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson and the programs she and the board have brought forth over the past year.
New programs, added under the current school administration, include Passport for Learning, an inexpensive aftercare program available in all the public schools. It teaches everything from chess to art to math.
The Parents United Team agreed with Johnson’s separation of the Middle School from the High School, but said they’d like to see the schools in their own buildings.
The Forward Together slate, with two incumbents, said they were open to further separation but said there were pros and cons to including less access to high school facilities and programs.
(For more information on the candidates look at the last two weeks of coverage in the Hoboken News section of Hudsonreporter.com)
Charter school controversy
The board majority, allied with Forward Together, has made several controversial moves in the past few years, including filing legal action against the state to stop one of the city’s three charter schools, HoLa, from expanding. The board majority has argued that the charter schools take too much money and resources from the other public schools. So far, the legal action has been unsuccessful.
Sobolov and Evans voted in February 2016 to continue the legal action against the HoLa charter school expansion, along with allies on the board, Thomas Kluepfel, Sharyn Angley, Leon Gold, and Monica Stromwall.
In April 2015, the Hoboken school board voted to appeal the state’s decision in appellate court but not to spend any additional taxpayer money, instead relying on private donations
Both Sobolov and Evans said they would support the appeal of the New Jersey Department of Education’s decision to the Appellate Court and continue to do so. Evans said that the decision had been made by the board to continue the appeal with private funds and that she supports future donations.
The Parents United slate said they would not support the litigation and that the board needs to accept the verdict of the state.
When to vote
Recently, the state standardized test scores were released for the public schools. In almost every case, the scores were lower than the state average. Some board candidates declined to comment (see last week’s cover story, hudsonreporter.com, Hoboken News).
Residents will be able to vote between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. If you are not sure where, contact the city clerk at (201) 420-2070.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at email@example.com.