HoLa variance expansion request in City Council @ 7:00

Tonight the City Council will switch into fall mode and the agenda is transitioning with some high profile items of interest with one charged zoning variance up for consideration.

Zoning variances are usually a high point of interest in Hoboken, especially since former mayor Peter Cammarano offered to sell two of them for $25,000 back in 2009 to federal informant Solomon Dwek who was posing as a developer.

“I promise you, you’ll be treated as a friend,” Cammarano told him for the ill begotten gains.

Tonight we have a variance of the legal variety up for consideration.

A zoning board application for HolA, the Boys and Girls Club aligned with the City of Hoboken seeks a zoning variance to expand facilities for the school. The subject is touchy with the legal differences in the HoLa school’s 7th and 8th grade expansion approved by the State of NJ Dept. of Education and the regular Hoboken School District which recently saw cuts last year.

The expansion of the charter school has led to legal action by the district which lost its request to stop the seventh and eighth grade expansion. An appeal has been made to the Appellate Court.

Rarely do issues related to the Hoboken Board of Education surface in the Hoboken City Council as each has its own elected representatives. With the bump of financial resources in the wider school district, the contentious relationship with Hoboken’s multiple charter schools entered a new phase around funding and the limited resources competing with one another.

The BoE most recently led by Superintendent Mark Toback said the expansion of charters was harming the regular school district. The charters argue they receive less funding and do more with less.

Hoboken finds itself in a unique position with a regular School District and four competing charter schools in a one square mile area. HoLa has been more polarized in the conversation as several Old Guard members and backers send their children to the school and have attempted to use the charter school as a linchpin to divide reform forces and a base of professional parent led families.

An article delineating concerns about the “segregative effect” showed in the recent school year there was progress in the income levels of parents across all the Hoboken schools with one exception: Connors.

The Connors school is in close proximity to the HoLa school and serves a 95% minority student population. HoLa with approximately a third or so minority enrollment remains in sharp contrast to its neighbor.  Last weekend, Carlo Davis broke down some data in his story here.

The competition for State resources and funding is likely to be a big agenda item in this November’s Board of Education race.

Tonight’s City Council agenda is available at the link.

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