BoE candidate Monica Stromwall: ‘No new legal funding to stop HoLa expansion’

Board of Education trustee Monica Stromwall is making waves announcing in the twilight of the election race Tuesday she no longer supports legal action constricting the expansion of the HoLa charter school.

Stromwall voted twice with the Kids First majority on the Hoboken Board of Education previously to start legal action in the hope of overturning NJ’s state approval allowing expansion to seventh and eighth grades next year.

As stated in the pro Old Guard developer founded Hudson Reporter, Stromwall is reported saying she would no longer vote to continue legal action to overturn the HoLa expansion. Of the nine member body she is one of seven votes that initiated the legal action.

A day earlier Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced she would be voting for Stromwall and her two running mates on the Parents for Progress ticket in the upcoming Tuesday election. The mayor’s letter published in full on MSV outlined her opposition to using legal means in an attempt to overturn the proposed expansion of HoLA and a desire for officials on the BoE “when appropriate to dissent.”

The mayor has children in the Elysian charter school but one graduating next year is expected to be enrolling in Hoboken High School.

It’s unclear if Stromwall’s other two running mates will publicly endorse her position. At the time of this writing it’s not clear if the Kids First majority on the BoE will back Stromwall’s position either as five votes on the nine member body is required for passage.

Stromwall is quoted as saying she does “not wish to close HoLa or limit their expansion” and isn’t backing additional funding in her role as trustee for the existing BoE lawsuit.

Monica Stromwall a trustee on the BoE seeking election to a full term Thursday stated she will no longer back
additional legal funding to overturn the State’s approval to allow the HoLa charter school to expand to 7th and 8th grades.

This past year, controversy erupted when funding problems forced the wider Hoboken school district to make severe funding cuts. Warning signs by its former Superintendent Mark Toback among others said the continued expansion of charters in Hoboken would lead to layoffs and harm the district.

The issue exploded last March when controversial BoE President Leon Gold saw his comments published in Salon magazine describing the issue with Hoboken’s four charter schools. He was quoted  saying the charters were “bankrupting” the wider district and creating “white flight.”

The statements created a fracture among Hoboken’s growing population of young families and elements within the reform movement holding majorities at City Hall and the BoE.

In related Hoboken education news, Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced her son who will be attending high school next year has decided he will be choosing Hoboken High School.  That announcement has been met with surprise and celebration among parents with children in the district where test scores have risen.

Recent enrollment analysis also shows the income levels of the student body are balancing out reflected in the lowered figures for those receiving free and reduced lunch now below 50%. The new figure represents a significant drop, meaning a wider group of higher income families in Hoboken are sending their kids to the district.

The funding issue determined by the State is expected to continue to be problematic for Hoboken. Charters are funded almost exclusively with local tax funds, in the area of 90%. Grafix Avenger published a story recently challenging the HoLa charter school to remove incorrect information on their website stating the funding comes from the State. She cited their homepage stating, “Charter schools are free public schools funded by the State.”

Talking Ed Note: Stromwall’s remarks are not clearly made in the context of her own position or her slate Parents for Progress. It’s also unclear how Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s remarks factored in coming one day earlier. There’s likely to be speculation on all of it in the closing days of the Hoboken BoE race.

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