Friends of the New Hoboken High School are hosting a Zoom this evening with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson, along with board of education members, to discuss next week’s $241 million school referendum.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The Friends of the New Hoboken High School are pleased to invite all district elementary and pre-K parents to a special Zoom meeting with Dr. Johnson and members of the BOE on Tuesday January 18th from 8-9 pm,” a January 15th email from Lauren Eakin to Hoboken Public School District parents says.
“Dr. Johnson and members of the BOE will answer questions about the referendum being proposed to address critical facility gaps, accommodate growing enrollment, and provide the facilities needed to fully implement the District’s 21st century academic curriculum.”
Eakin, the BOE’s Gifted and Talented District Coordinator, is one of a dozen people attached to the FNHHS group and sent the email from her school address.
2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who has come out against the project, accused the BOE of coordinating with the group, which is not permitted under state law.
“Unfortunately, what could have been a great public process has been a frustrating one for all involved. I just wish that the BOE would have made a broader effort to reach Hoboken voters, and not just those most apt to vote yes,” she said.
“I am stunned by this email – shows the BOE not only using their own resources to advocate for the project, but helping to source emails for a supportive advocacy group. I thought that was not allowed.”
The group said that they modeled the Zoom after the handful of information sessions hosted by the BOE recently, indicating that the info was shared with PTO members who then shared them with other parents.
“The Friends group arranged tonight’s informational meeting for district pre-K and elementary parents to run much like the public informational meetings that the board has held in recent weeks. We created the zoom and shared the invitation on January 13 with PTO members across the district elementary schools to share with other parents directly,” they said in an email.
“In addition to this meeting, a similar meeting was held earlier today (moderated by a charter parent) for non-district parents (charter and private) who had requested the opportunity to hear directly from Dr. Johnson and the members of the BOE.”
Additionally, Darsen Hover, a spokeswoman for the district, said the BOE has no affiliation with this group at all.
“The board can not and does not have any affiliation with that group or any other group advocating for or against the project,” he stated.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education declined to comment on the situation.
The referendum is next Tuesday and today is the last day to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot by mail.