As a testament to the cost and scarcity of property in Hoboken, two of Hoboken’s three charter schools are currently without a definite home for next year.
Some charter school parents are worried about the future of the schools and whether they should make contingency plans for their children’s education for the 2010-2011 school year.
Charter schools are public schools that are usually founded by parents and educators. Most of their funding comes from the government, just like other public schools, and they do not charge tuition. Two of the city’s three charter schools were founded more than 10 years ago – Elysian Charter School and Hoboken Charter School – and a third – HoLa Charter School – will begin in the fall. It is Elysian and Hoboken Charter that are looking for homes, although Elysian may have found a temporary solution.
Hoboken Charter School (HCS), currently located at the Hoboken school district’s Demarest building, will no longer have space afforded to it by the district next year.
“We’ve been looking all over town.” – Carol Stock
Hoboken Charter School was on break last week, but one former HCS board member said that HCS’s primary and high school will be moving into the Academy of the Sacred Heart building, 713 Washington St.
Another source said the building may need work to bring meet school building codes and regulations. If the work is not started soon, it may not be done in time for the fall and HCS may be left searching for interim options.
The other older charter school, Elysian Charter School, currently has two locations. Their main school and administrative space is at 301 Garden St., and a classroom annex is located at Our Lady of Grace, 522 Willow Ave. But the lease with OLG is expiring after the school year. Elysian is looking for a unified space.
“Our dream is to house everyone under one roof,” said Director Carol Stock. “We’ve been looking all over town.”
Stock said Elysian had a deal worked out with the Academy of the Sacred Heart, but the deal fell through.
Since then, Stock has checked more than a dozen properties around town looking a long-term, unified solution that may take two-to-three years to materialize. Nothing has been promising.
“[School] spaces…are limited in Hoboken, and expensive,” Stock said, but she has almost secured two or three satellite classrooms to satisfy the space needs in the interim.
This means the classrooms may be more crowded this year. There could be 32 kids housed with two teachers for some grades.
The school has been unable to address the loss of its art studio and music room.
“I believe that our education program will go on very strongly,” Stock said. “However, it’s very frightening now, very nerve-racking.”
Stock said the state hasn’t made any efforts to help charter schools find space, although the public school districts have access to bonding and construction funds that the charter schools do not.
The newest of the three charter school, the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School (HoLa), is set to open in September at the Hoboken Boys and Girls Club, 123 Jefferson St.
Over 130 children from kindergarten to second grade start the bilingual immersion learning experience begun by founders Jennifer Hindman Sargent and Camille Korschun Bustillo.
Sargent and Bustillo won state approval for the school last September, one of eight charter schools approved in New Jersey last year out of 27 schools that applied.
The state approved six classes of 22 students for HoLa and the school intends to expand by one grade per year up to fifth grade, so they will need more space soon.
They have leases their space with the Boys and Girls Club and are renovating the facility to make it ready for kids in the fall, but the long-term outlook for HoLa is still unclear.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.