Decision this week about Connors School
District holds out hope that building will be renovated
by Timothy J. Carroll
Reporter staff write
Jun 13, 2010 | 1961 views | 1 1 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
STUDENTS STAYING – The district is “75 percent sure” the Connors School students will not be displaced by renovations next year, although Superintendent Peter Carter said he is still advocating for the project to go forward.
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For Connors School students wondering where they will go to classes next year, Superintendent Peter Carter said a final decision will be announced on Monday, June 14.

Last month, Gov. Christopher Christie put an indefinite hold on funding for all new school renovations for the coming year, including Connors School, 201 Monroe St., until his Department of Education reprioritizes the projects.

Students at the school were prepared to temporarily move to another building starting in September, but it appears that they may stay put for now.

Still, the district is hoping the money for the changes will come through.

Carter said at the Board of Education meeting this past Tuesday that he is 75 percent sure Connors students will stay in their own building next year.
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“We were told there was no space available at the district.” – Paul McConnell
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Carter said he is still advocating for the Connors renovation to go forward and meeting with “key officials” from the state.

He said a definitive answer will be posted on the school website on Monday.

The student shuffle

Now that the kids won’t be moving to the old Demarest School building at Fourth and Garden streets, that building will have a lot of open space. But it may be too late for the school district to find tenants to fill it.

The building is currently occupied by a charter high school, a charter primary school, and the district’s alternative high school. But both of the latter have already made plans to move because of the intended moving of Connors.

The Hoboken Charter School’s high school will continue to rent space in Demarest next year.

According to a source, already-funded renovations scheduled for the Demarest building may now be accelerated next year.

Other space issues

At the school board meeting last week, a district parent criticized Carter and the board for letting Elysian Charter School rent two classrooms in the Brandt primary school for next year. Brandt, on Ninth Street, houses kindergarten, third, fourth, and fifth graders – but the first and second graders go to the Calabro, Connors, or Wallace schools.

Resident Vanessa Falco told the board that some parents “practically begged” the district to open up Brandt to first grade so their kindergarten children could continue classes at the same school. Falco said of the nine dedicated parents who involved themselves at Brandt this year, eight are leaving the district for lack of first grade classes in the building.

“The family we created [at the school] will be torn apart,” she said. “You’ve lost a great group of parents.”

Carter said the decision to not include a first grade at Brandt was his alone, although he did not explain why he made such a decision. Carter did not return a call for comment.

A district source said Brandt would have needed four or five classrooms to accommodate the burgeoning number of area first graders, and since only two classrooms were available, Elysian got the go-ahead.

One charter over another

Paul McConnell, the Hoboken Charter School parents’ association president, was also miffed about Elysian renting space, but for a different reason. He said the charter school had asked the district for any available space when they were told to vacate the Demarest building last year.

“We were told there was no space available at the district,” he said to Carter. “What’s different between Hoboken Charter School and Elysian Charter School? That’s what I want to know.”

Accepted a charlatan

Also at the meeting, Carter apologized to parents for being “duped” by a man who allegedly defrauded several high school students out of $500.

Administrators had cleared the New York City man, Dexter Davis, who called himself “Dr. Dexter Davis,” to work directly with students. The students unwittingly agreed to distribute phony raffle tickets for Davis, according to reports, giving him the cash they earned on the promise of a salary and other swag, like concert tickets.

But the students became suspicious and did some internet searching on Davis and found out he had been accused of pulling a con in Connecticut.

Hoboken and New York City police have issued warrants for Davis’ arrest since the incident. Hoboken police are charging him with theft by deception and wrongful impersonation.

Carter called the move an “oops” on the district website.

“Moving forward, all staff involved with interacting with outside providers will double check the authenticity of each and every firm or person,” he wrote.

Retirements

State regulations that will reduce pension payouts are enticing many seasoned educators to file for retirement this year.

The board accepted seven resignations last week, including the resignation of Interim Director of Special Services Elizabeth Falco, who was the first African-American administrator in Hoboken’s school district.

Her daughter, Vanessa, who spoke at the meeting, thanked her mother for instilling the value of education in her children. She also encouraged the district to promote ethnic diversity within the schools, which she said was lacking.

Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at tcarroll@hudsonreporter.com.

Comments
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dragenfly75
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June 13, 2010
Brandt School houses pre-k 3, pre-k 4 and kindergarten. It does not have 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. There are more than two classrooms available to accommodate 1st grade, at least 5 actually.

Vanessa is a wonderful parent, and an excellent advocate for this town and its schools. I only hope that parents like her don't leave, because the district continues to ignore their dire requests for continuity for their children, a new school, more sports leagues, etc.