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BoE VP Ruth McAllister: “The State funding formula is not working”

We have two issues that must be
addressed in Hoboken’s overall Public Educational System: funding fairness and
balanced enrollment.  These two issues
are universally recognized by all four district leaders, yes, all four
districts, the Hoboken Board of Education Schools, Hoboken Charter School,
Elysian Charter School and HoLa Charter School. 
The four school leaders have all met to discuss these issues, at Dr.
Toback’s behest, and they all agree that the State Funding Formula is not
working for any of them and that there is an unintended segregation effect in
our system on the school age child population and they all would like to
address it.

In the recent discussions over
the expansion of HoLa Charter School, the funding of only two districts was at
stake.  The funding that was in question
was either going to remain available to the Hoboken Board of Education schools
or it would be diverted to HoLa.  Elysian
and Hoboken Charter would not be directly affected.  HoLa’s Board and parents advocated for their
funding and the Hoboken Board of Education and parents advocated for their
funding.   I understood the HoLa board
and parents actions, I spoke with, met and emailed many.  I also spoke with, met and emailed with many
of the district’s parents. Both groups had something in common, they were equally
passionate in their pleas and support for their own districts and their
students, rightfully so. It is unfortunate, but the State has set up a
situation where one district’s gain is another district loss in terms of
funding.

Dr. Toback and the charter school
leaders have all expressed their concern for the unintended segregation effect.
The question is how is this addressed? 
The first step is always to acknowledge its existence and develop
solutions.  When corporations review
their statistics and see a diversity issue they create a diversity action plan
to address the issue.    These written
plans outline goals and actions over multi-year periods to achieve these
goals.  A true effort involves
evaluating why, addressing those reasons and evaluating your results.  Having four diversity plans is one solution,
but I think the state needs to address its charter law and mandated lottery system
to come up with guidelines to make this right.

I want the State of New Jersey to
take responsibility for creating both of these community dividing issues.  We all need to lobby the state together to
address the funding issue and the diversity issue with changes in legislation
that do not pit one school district against another. 

Lastly, taking a critical look at
how the funding is affecting the BOE schools and asking for relief does not
translate to me wanting to close down all the charters.  I have sat quietly while the charter
allocation has gone up from 4 million to 8 million dollars in 4 years.  Through responsible budgeting and
eliminating waste in the budget, the BOE was able to absorb those and
other increases and the decline in funding. 
In 2009 there were approximately 525 employees on the payroll and now
there are approximately 400.  We have
diverted those savings to our classroom, to infrastructure, to technology,
to professional development and extensive work on the curriculum. Unfortunately,
many of our revenue sources have recently been constrained, State aid, federal
Aid and (only our) School Choice cut, making it harder to accommodate our
students while diverting ever increasing charter funding year after year.

I understand that these issues
create contentious conversations.  I also
know that my colleagues and I have worked diligently for the children and for
the Hoboken taxpayer and resident.  We
have a proven record of improvement in all areas and we will continue to work
toward our goals even with the challenges that this year’s budget brings.

My email address is rmcallister@hoboken.k12.nj.us.  All are welcome to contact me about the above
or any school related issue.



Thank you for considering my
view,
Ruthy McAllister
Vice President

Hoboken Board of Education

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