Last week's letter from Michael Fischetti (third in four months) stated that he hoped for "a meaningful response" from the board president or superintendent, to his questions regarding educational costs in the district. Also, for a third time, he erroneously suggested $64.7 million was what "is being spent by the school district." He continues floating this number and claims “complete silence” even though the board president did, in fact, respond (in these very pages) to his first letter.
Mr. Fischetti is correct that "the people of Hoboken have the right to know", and that policy makers should avail themselves in "a public forum." There is such a place: the Hoboken Board of Education meetings, where anyone from the community is free to directly address board members, administrators and the public. If he were to attend, he might see how our diverse community both challenges and cheers what's happening in our schools.
Why does Mr. Fischetti not attend our board meetings to directly question those from which he seeks answers?
Had he done so he would already know that $64.7 million is the total 2013-2014 revenue but that $7.81 million of that goes to our charter schools…and that another $10.19 million is passed through for the state-mandated (and funded) pre-K. Perhaps, then, he would be questioning $46.3 million, which is the actual budget for in-district, K-12 students.
Mr. Fischetti, in his first letter, also compared Hoboken to some other towns, which he claimed had per-pupil budgets ranging from $23K (Jersey City) down to $13K (Glen Ridge). Presumably these were the latest 2011-2012 NJ DOE statistics, but Mr. Fischetti gave no source for his numbers. In fact, his original list of per-pupil costs (according to the NJ DOE web site) is: Jersey City/$22K (not $23K), Union City/$20K (not $18K), Weehawken/$19K, Montclair/$18K (not $17K) and Glen Ridge/$18K (not $13K). These compare to Hoboken at $19,640 per student, not the lowest but certainly comparable (and not the $30K asserted in his second letter).
Of course, if he still has questions I urge him and all serious, concerned residents to come to the board meetings. Everyone is welcome…with kids (in district/charters/private schools) or not; whether an unhappy taxpayer or just someone interested until the next Board of Ed election.
I have kids in district (happily). I’ve been a charter parent (happily) and I remain a taxpayer (never happy). Even though I’ve disagreed with every board member or attendee at some point, I continue participating for a simple reason: change requires involvement. And while taxes may be paramount to some, the first (and most critical) order of business is the education of our children.
Mr. Fischetti asks reasonable questions which are debated every budget season. His data and assertions, however, are inaccurate. And repeating them multiple times will not make them correct. If he is really interested in the well-being of “the people of Hoboken” (better yet, the children of Hoboken), then he should join them at a Board of Education meeting.