Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his top three allies on the city council are backing the board of education’s $241 million school referendum set for next month.
“A brand-new high school will be a transformative project for Hoboken, paving the way for an improved educational experience for our children and improving the quality of life of our residents with a much-needed pool and upgraded facilities,” Bhalla told HCV in an emailed statement.
“A new high school will also increase property values in our city, providing a win-win for all of our residents. I’m fully supportive of the Hoboken Public School District’s initiative and I encourage residents to consider the benefits of the plans.”
The referendum, set for January 25th, already has the full support of the school board, who have cited increasing enrollment as the main reason why the project is needed for the Mile Square City.
The project would be four stories tall and approximately 374,700 square feet with a 110 car spot garage underneath the school that will allow the first floor of the school to be elevated to comply with FEMA regulations.
The proposed Hoboken High School would have 27 general classrooms, 11 specialized learning rooms, and six self-contained special education rooms.
The hefty price tag would lead to an approximately $496 annual tax increase per household, according to preliminary data released thus far.
In a joint statement, Council members Emily Jabbour, Phil Cohen, and Jim Doyle said they are happy to support the BOE’s efforts to invest in children’s futures.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with our Board of Education colleagues and Superintendent Dr. Johnson on this significant project. All the council members had a briefing on this project just after Thanksgiving, and we three all also attended the presentation made to the Planning Board on the 7th. It is clear that there is an increasing need for additional space and updated facilities in our thriving Hoboken Public School District,” they said.
“Accommodating growth and promoting excellence in our school district is a great thing for any community, and we support the Hoboken Board of Education’s efforts to invest in the future of our children’s education and create art and recreation facilities that will be enjoyed by generations of Hobokenites. We look forward to participating in the series of community meetings about this project over the next several weeks to hear feedback from residents.”
According to New Jersey Department of Education statistics from February, the district had 2,238 full-time students enrolled in K-12, including 313 full-time special education students.
While 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said the project has “a lot of positives,” it is premature for anyone, especially the mayor, to come out in support without knowing all the facts yet.
“There are a lot of positives in the proposed high school. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see the mayor offer his support so early before seeing the math and the impact to taxpayers – as usual, headlines matter more than the numbers,” she said.
“But I hope in the near future he will also commit to cutting taxes and spending at City Hall to provide relief to taxpayers to help absorb the cost of this new school.”
Council President Ruben Ramos declined to comment, stating he wanted to evaluate the full scope of the plan first.
The remaining four members of the city council did not return inquiries seeking comment.
The Hoboken BOE will meet tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Demarest School Auditorium, 158 4th Street, to discuss the project further, including the first opportunity for the public to weigh in on the matter.