After a contentious election campaign season, the Board of Education met Tuesday for the first time since the final results came in. Kids First slate winners Tom Kluepfel, Ruth McAllister and Jean Marie Mitchell will be sworn into the nine-member board on Jan. 7. McAllister, re-elected as an incumbent, is already serving.
The meeting lasted less than 90 minutes, in contrast to meetings prior to the Nov. 6 election that sometimes involved as much as six hours of campaign stunts and flaring tempers.
At the meeting, McAllister said that an adjusted calendar had been approved to make up for some of the school days missed during Hurricane Sandy. The April/Easter vacation has been shortened and will end with the Tuesday following Easter weekend. The original vacation would have given the students the entire week off.
Working off a short agenda, at the start of the meeting the board made available to the public a chart showing declining enrollment numbers for the district.
So far, in the 2012-2013 school year, the district’s non-charter schools – Brandt School, Connors School, Calabro School, Wallace School and Hoboken High School – have seen a decrease of 80 students. The total number enrolled for the five non-charter schools is 1613, total charter enrollment is 606.
Parent Jason Yoon Hendricks asked about this at the meeting. Superintendent Dr. Mark Toback said the decrease was largely due to non-residents discovered throughout the year, particularly at the high school, who were subsequently removed from the rolls.
“We expect to pay very little out of our own pocket.” – Leon Gold
“Non-residents are usually discovered later in the year,” said Toback.
No guarantees on reimbursement dollars
The agreement between the Board of Education and the Hoboken Education Association, reimbursing tuition costs for teachers who further their education, has changed. In previous years the funds that were allotted for tuition reimbursement sometimes ran out before all teachers were reimbursed. The new agreement will divide the pool of $45,000 in half and disperse payments equally for different semesters.
If the first round of reimbursement requests exceeds the allotted amount, then the $45,000 will be divided equally among courses instead. Board member Peter Biancamano questioned the change at the beginning of the meeting.
“So there is no guarantee that what people put out, they will get back?” asked Biancamano.
Toback said that in previous years, given the problem with the way the allotment was divided, there is no guarantee right now, but this could change in the future.
A new program
A new language arts program will be piloted at the Wallace school for K-6 in order to get the children ready for middle and high school.
Board member Maureen Sullivan questioned how the program will impact test scores.
The program is designed to link phonics together and foster a greater vocabulary and response in writing.
Board member Leon Gold said thank you to a long list of donors to different schools in the district. Among the donors were: the Sobolov family of Hoboken, Jean Connors and Karen Jedinak of Pa., Ann Marie Martini of Conn., Save the Children, Mid-Pacific Institute of Hi., Zog Sports, Hickroy Elementary School of Md., Diamond State Reading Association of Del., James Madison High School of Va. and JK Moving Co.
Gold also said in his finance report that very little should have to come out of the district’s pocket to pay for storm cleanup.
“When push comes to shove, we expect to pay very little out of our own pocket,” he said.
Congrats from Waiters
Independent board candidate Patricia Waiters closed the meeting by congratulating the other school board candidates.
According to Waiters, there was a letter left on her door from the Sheriff’s Department about a vote recount. Waiters said Kluepfel, Mitchell, and McAllister won fair and square.
“I counted my chickens, and they hatched,” Waiters said. “Hats off to all of you. Congrats and keep up the good work.”
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.