Amidst a contentious discussion over classroom space, Hoboken Public Schools have made the announcement that all Pre-Kindergarten-3 registrants have been accepted, and that there will not be a lottery for enrollment.
“The scheduled registration period for our PK program concluded on April 5, 2019,” read a statement by Hoboken Public Schools. “Based on the number of children who registered during the allotted time period between April 1st and April 5th, we are happy to report that all 540, PK-3 registrants will receive a seat for September and will not be part of a lottery process.”
All in all, that means Hoboken will be dedicating 66 classrooms to its PreK programs, housing a total of 990 students.
These numbers represent a 15% spike in enrollment for the K-12 programs in Hoboken. Combined with a projected slash in state aid of $5.6 million over the next seven years, as well as an increase in charter school allocations and anticipated increases in costs moving forward, the Hoboken Board of Education has been considering three possible options to handle early education programs in the district.
Hoboken Board of Education President Sharyn Angley recently told hMAG, “One recommendation was to maintain the current use of facilities. This would necessitate, among other things, the need to 1) locate, renovate to education safety code, and pay market-rate rent for additional PreK classroom space (which is well above amounts that the Pre-K budget could afford), and 2) reduce the district staff by approximately seven teachers in addition to various other positions (administrative, custodial, security) and potential program/services cuts.”
Angley continued to explain, “Another recommendation was to place the 7 new Pre-K classrooms at Calabro while also maintaining grades 1-5 (99 students) there. Each year going forward a grade would age out. With this proposal, “specials” would have to be held in the classroom as the rooms currently used for specials would now be used for Pre-K. Only some of Calabro’s operating and administrative expenses would be shared with the Pre-K program budget so other efficiencies and reductions would need to take place. Lunch would be served via satellite, and the Passport to Learning after-school program would be held at Brandt. There would need to be personnel eliminations/consolidations, a shared nurse, as well as a joint school supervisor/early childhood supervisor.”
Arguably the most controversial option among parents in the district is to, “repurpose the Calabro school building to accommodate 10 PreK classrooms (7 new classrooms and 3 that currently reside at Wallace),” said Angley. “No teachers would be let go, but to do so would require relocating the 99 Calabro students (next year’s grades 1-5) to Brandt while maintaining the Calabro teaching staff, clerical and administrative positions. All programs/services would be maintained. Families would have the option the keep their children with the teachers they would have had at Calabro.”
With the announcement on Wednesday that the lottery would not be necessary, parents in the district expressed concern that the decision had already been made.
“The two things are not connected,” said Angley, in an email to hMAG Thursday night. “This year, the NJ DOE increased the number of Hoboken Pre-K classrooms by 7. There will be a total of 66 Pre-K classrooms (990 students) in 2019-2020. No matter where the classrooms reside, there will be 66 Pre-K classrooms.”
As for the decision on what to do with Calabro and Brandt, Hoboken Public School Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson told hMAG that, “options will be discussed and voted upon at the May 7th Public Hearing on the budget.”