School board president Leon Gold urges residents to email him for information about spending in the district. I would urge anyone interested in accurate per-pupil K-12 spending to go directly to the home page of the Hoboken school district – Hoboken.k12.nj.us. It’s right there under the heading “User Friendly Budget.” For the current fiscal year, which ends next month, the “total budgetary comparative per pupil cost” is $23,716. The district also took out a nearly three-page ad in this newspaper back on March 24 detailing the new budget, and included that exact figure. Why use that number instead of Mr. Gold’s? Because the State mandates what appears so that regular people can make easy comparisons and hold their school boards accountable for what they spend.
Mr. Gold, who is up for re-election this year after raising taxes 4 percent, obviously has a vested interested in portraying spending in a more conservative light by using numbers that aren’t comparable from district to district and are not readily available in the paper or on the Hoboken website. And with our non-traditional mix of State-funded Pre-K and three charter schools, it’s also not appropriate to simply divide the current $62.4 million budget and come up with a per-pupil figure. Why not just use the apples-to-apples comparison the State already provides?
Mr. Gold also writes that our spending is “comparable to other districts of our size.” The facts, however, don’t bear that out. Hoboken is one of 67 districts that the State groups together because they have K-12 enrollment between 1,801 and 3,500. In that grouping, Hoboken is second only to Asbury Park in per-pupil spending. Harrison, another Hudson County town in that cohort, is spending $15,196 per pupil this year, according to the State-mandated “user- friendly budget” on its website. That’s $8,520 less per pupil than Hoboken! Another comparable district, Secaucus, is spending $14,483 per pupil, according to the State-mandated information on its website. That’s $9,233 less than Hoboken!
Mr. Gold conveniently urges residents to get their information from him. But why not get it from the primary source? And if people are looking for more than just his platitudes about our schools’ academics, I urge them to consult the State’s newly published, highly detailed Performance Report for every elementary and high school - http://www.state.nj.us/education/pr/2013/17/172210005.pdf
The first two sentences about Hoboken High School read: “This school's academic performance significantly lags in comparison to schools across the state. Additionally, its academic performance lags in comparison to its peers,” which include high schools in Camden, Newark and Paterson.
Former School Board Member