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BoE’s Theresa Minutillo corrects the record

This editorial is a reply by BoE trustee Theresa Minutillo to her colleague Maureen Sullivan who wrote a letter to the Hudson Reporter a week ago.

Dear Editor:

School board members should strive to make our schools better. Publically we should support efforts that are working and honestly address those that are not. Above all we must tell the truth. The recent letter by Maureen Sullivan failed that test.

Ms. Sullivan states “our school taxes actually went up.” They didn’t. Hoboken’s BoE raised $36,764,796 in 2009-10, $36,761,743 in 2010-11, and is proposing to raise $36,746,171 in 2011-12. In spite of increasing salaries, health benefits, and energy costs, decreasing state aid and a loss of our surplus, total taxes collected from Hobokenites decreased each year. This is an accomplishment. Ms. Sullivan would instead focus on the sad reality that since many Hobokenites have appealed their taxes in recent years the rest of us – who have not appealed – have to pay a larger share. Unfortunate? Yes. The fault of the BoE? No.

Ms. Sullivan also claims all the 5th, 6th, and 7th graders from Connors took a “field trip” to the Hudson County Correctional Center. The truth? Only six at risk children visited the site, with the approval of the Child Study Workers and their parents. And of course, like all our students, Connors students also attend field trips to museums and colleges. In truth, expectations for all district students have been set high. And Connors, with a dedicated staff and the arrival of the new Principal Laurinda Pereira, will no doubt exceed them.

Are there still challenges to overcome? Of course. But Ms. Sullivan highlights only the shortcomings at Connors and throughout the district as though no one is concerned, and nothing is being done. Under out-going Superintendent Mr. Carter we have made great strides and with the arrival of the Dr. Toback next month we are poised to continue our improvement. A key goal of this board is to increase the NJASK test scores. A new Curriculum Director has been hired and is working diligently with a dedicated team of teachers and principals to address all concerns. Three experienced experts were engaged to directly support the teachers. Connors also has great news to report. During the 2009-10 school year, Connors 7th Grade Math Scores beat all the 7th Grade Math Scores in Hoboken, including both Charter Schools. Congratulations to those hard working and dedicated students, teachers and parents.

Dr. Toback is committed not only to raising our student’s academic performance but doing so within the confines of a tightened budget. He was chosen in part for his proven ability to find financial efficiencies in restructuring the use of all of our facilities while promoting educational excellence. With the full support of the board, I have no doubt that he, and the entire district, will succeed.

The facts speak for themselves. Another recent achievement is that more residents will get the opportunity to vote on the budget and Board Trustees this April 27th, Wednesday. The Board unanimously approved extending the polling hours for the April elections from 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. Please be one of them.

Theresa Minutillo
Hoboken BoE Trustee

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