2010 Apr 19th

Just How Bad are Hoboken’s Schools?

Hoboken Schools Have a Bad Rep

school_houseIf there is any single factor that causes families to move out of Hoboken, above all it is the reputation of the Hoboken public school system.  Sure, taxes are an issue but taxes are a problem across the State and most of the NorthEast.  We’ve been an Abbott district for some time now, per pupil spending is well above the average for the State as are our operating expenses yet academic performance is near bottom.

Ind. Per Pupil District
%± vs.
1 Comparative Cost $24,808 70 $13,632 82.0%
2 Classroom Instruction 13,020 69 8,035 62.0%
6 Support Services 5,732 70 2,166 164.6%
8 Administrative Cost 1,412 36 1,379 2.4%
10 Operations & Maintenance 3,566 70 1,674 113.0%
13 Extracurricular Activities 692 70 258 168.2%
16 Median Teacher Salary 74,902 69 57,597
Data from NJDoE 2009 Comparative Spending Guide.[2]
*Of K-12 districts with 1,801-3,500 students. Lowest spending=1; Highest=70

Tomorrow are Hoboken School Board Elections.  Polls are open from 2:00pm to 9:00pm so there are no excuses – vote when you get home from work!

Of course, that begs the question of who should you vote for.  My opinion is that the current Kids First slate had their chance and as far as I can tell, not much has changed.  I will give someone else the opportunity to fix this mess so I’m voting for Real Results. As I understand it, they are the candidates chosen by the former supporters of Kids First who are also disallusioned by the lack of improvement and progress made by Kids First.  If it matters to you, Mayor Zimmer is supporting Kids First.  If you want to learn more about the platforms of the candidates read this or this. Now, you might be thinking “well I don’t have kids so I don’t care” or “my kids go to private school”.  A huge chunk of your taxes pay for the school system and bad schools hurt property values!!!  The one thing I do know for sure is that if you can’t be bothered to vote, you have no right to complain about our expensive yet failing school system!

  1. Craig

    How is Hoboken an Abbott district? I thought those are supposed to be districts in poor socioeconomic communities. Hoboken has got to be one of the wealthiest cities in the country per capita. I don’t know how it got that designation, but I don’t see it having it for long once the income figures from the 2010 census are released. Once the state Abbott funding is gone I guess that means another huge tax hike to make up the shortfall. Splendid.

  2. Lori

    I believe it is an Abbott district because the majority of the students are from poor socio-economic backgrounds. From what I understand, although we have a residency requirement, it is not really enforced. We have, as a result, an influx of students, especially at the high school, who are NOT from Hoboken but they attend our schools at our expense.

  3. teaorcoffee

    Craig, where did you get your info about being one of the wealthiest cities in the country per capita? Wiki shows that Hoboken’s per capita income is $43,000 or so, in 80th place in New Jersey alone. Granted, that data isn’t fresh and not from the most reliable source.

    Real estate values may be high, and there may be some wealthy residents here, but there are plenty of people who don’t make huge bucks in Hoboken.

    Also, next year is the last year for Abbott-funded pre-k for all Hoboken residents. Things could get interesting property tax-wise.

  4. homeboken

    Craig – Walk down Harrison St between 2nd and 6th, ask any of the thousands of Hoboken residents that live there if they think they live in one of the wealthies cities in the country.

    Hoboken is a great city, I call it home. But I think Craig’s comment is indicative of the expansion of the wealth division in this town.

  5. carl

    So why do families keep moving into Hoboken if the school district is not that good. Are there any good private schools?

  6. Lori

    I think (and I don’t have kids so this is just what I’ve been told) that people are OK with the elementary schools but tend to leave for the ‘burbs once the kids get a bit older. Some send their kids to high school elsewhere so that that they can stay.

  7. leafgreen99

    Keep in mind that Corzine did away with the Abbott District designation. Hoboken’s Abbott money paid for the state-mandated pre-school program which tends to run about 6 million per year and that was all the Abbott money Hoboken saw. That funding will end in one or two years. Then watch the fur fly when the previously free early-childhood program needs to be funded locally. What will the tax payers think?

    Hoboken got the Abbott designation long before it gained its wealth. As recently as last year roughly 75% of children in Hoboken public schools lived at or below the poverty line.

    Finally people need to be careful about all this talk about out-of-district students because Hoboken is a designated receiving district for students around the county and the district is reimbursed for those students. Also, Hoboken teachers who do not live here are allowed to register their children here if they choose. I think it’s safe to assume those districts also reimburse Hoboken for taking on those kids. Yes, there are kids who go to school in Hoboken who do not live in Hoboken and they are here legally.

    Don’t think there there are hundreds of mystery kids because if there were, the district would have found them, and yes I trust the powers that be to root out those kids without violating anyone’s right to privacy. Of course, the district might want to invite the kids to a birthday party and then follow the guests home afterward to see where they really live. I hear that’s a great strategy at Connors.

  8. John

    I don’t think someone with an axe is what Hoboken Schools need now.

    Kids First in the short time they have been in control of the BOE has held the line on taxes even with very large cuts in funding. I am giving them a chance to get the job done.

  9. Craig

    teaorcoffee – Wikipedia’s numbers are based on the 2000 census. They’re a wee bit out of date, don’t you think? Let’s see the results of the 2010 census. Judging by the cost of housing here, the number of luxury cars parked around town, and the influx of professionals from NYC, I think things have changed in the past decade. Thus I think Hoboken has moved up from 80th place – and even 80th out of over the 700 listed communities is pretty high up there as it’s in the top 11% of one of the wealthiest states in the country.

    Homeboken – no one denies Hoboken still has some areas of urban blight. But I think you can agree those few blocks are not representative of the majority of the city these days

  10. dogfood

    FYI. According 2006-2008 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates, the per capita income is 74506.


  11. EmmaC

    To answer the earlier question re: private schools there are a number of options in town – Stevens Co-op (thru 8th grade), the Hudson School (5th thru 12th grade), All Saints (thru 8th), Hoboken Catholic (thru 8th) – we also have the Charter schools. Some people who go the private school route do send their kids on to private high schools in the city as well as Jersey City, etc.

  12. Ralph Miller

    Quote from a Hoboken Real Estate Agent – “if you buy a three + bedroom condo, you are betting on an improvement in public education in Hoboken. most families hop town when their kids become middle/high-school age.” For this and other reasons it was suggested I stick with a 2-bedroom.

  13. ac_dutch

    Median Salary is $75k, and these people get a pension? Should have been a teacher! Summers off – 8am-3pm? Now that sounds like a plan. Only thing better might be Hoboken cop which I believe they start at $70k – with a pension. Folks – the writing is on the wall. These entitlements can not continue! This is NOT sustainable.

  14. Andy

    I come from a family of teachers. They are really not the problem. Its the shenanigans of busing kids in from other districts and paying all the administration 6 figures. Now, as for the pre-k, I am not going to pay property taxes to support that whatsoever. Its glorified day-care for moms who want to go back to work. I attended what was called Nursery school back when i was a child and my parents paid for it themselves.

  15. Andy

    Sorry should have posted this w/ my other one, The real problem is w/ NJ govt not funding its pensions and overspending for decades. The problem is our taxes were already high back then but now we have crushing debt on top of it. I don’t like Christie and i’m not a republican but I’ll say this, he’s got balls when it comes to making a decision even if its not popular. something has to be cut and cut deep.

  16. dkzzzz

    So, was Hoboken School Budget voted down? I voted No second year in a row ,but don’t have much hope for getting rid of that bloated fiscal corpse.

  17. roger

    School budget passed – don’t ask me how, I have yet to talk to anyone that voted for it.

  18. roger


    Hoboken passed – but here is an interesting article…

  19. jerry

    It is not about how much you spend. It is not about the town demographics. It is not about the school or teacher. It is not even about the kids.

    It is about the parents. If parents don’t care about their kids and have 12 of them, it is the breeding ground for another generation of ignorance and poverty.

  20. Andy

    60% of districts voted no and yet Hoboken votes yes. I hope all those mom’s out there are willing to fork over more money and didn’t just vote blindly for Kids First.

  21. homeboken

    Andy – there is no reason to hope, the bill is going to be paid by the residents of Hoboken. State funding was cut, budget approved, local taxes will go up to fill the gap. There is no other solution here.

  22. Lori Turoff

    What I find most appalling is the low voter turnout. Just over 5,000 votes in a city with well over 50,000 residents? Those who didn’t bother may get what they deserve but, unfortunately, we continue to paying the bill.

  23. homeboken

    I may be mistaken but if the budget was defeated, wouldn’t the budget process head over to city council, who would make some revisions then pass without a vote?

  24. Smith1234

    I have heard nothing but bad things about Hoboken schools. But I think the town still offers great value compared to NYC where many people spend 30k+ / yr / kid for private school, 1,200+ / sq ft, huge common fees, etc. So I am buying a 4 BR and staying put. If in 5 years the schools are still bad then my first child will go to private school.

  25. anon

    does this mean that when abbott funding goes, that the town will pick up the $6m tab through increased property taxes? Or will they charge parents? Or will the towns private preschools get swamped with applications?

  26. Tiger

    Yes anon, unfortunately, unless some serious cuts are made. We all know though cuts never happen in Hoboken.

    And our Mayor… oh well. Poor city of Hoboken.

  27. bz

    It’s still too early to make the prediction about the tax hike. The city and parents might share the cost. Never say never. Things do change. Hoboken residence in the 70’s “never” thought that their slump town can be one of the most attractive places to live in NJ 30 some years later.

    More than a half of the pre-k student body is from poor families from Hoboken and surrounding areas. If the city or parents or both pick up the bill, then the school won’t be a state public school. These poor family’s kids might not want to continue coming due to the cost, or revised enrollment requirement (rule out those out-towners who never pay high Hoboken taxes) or some other revision that the city might impose to the new school. I don’t think things will stay the same regardless who will pick up the bill. IMO, since the nature of the school changes (not a state public free school), the way it runs will change accordingly. Especially now that Hoboken families are aging, meaning more families with young children have decided or considered to stay. They now have more say in politics and BOE. Hoboken school issues, not just pre-k program, need some serious reform. Removing Abbott might be the trigger of it. It might be a good thing for the long-term sustainability of the city. I’m sure that there will be a lot of speculation, ideas, proposals and debate been tossed around before the best option surface. That’s good. If we have to change the city for good, sooner is better than latter.

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