In a letter to the editor, Hoboken resident Pavel Sokolov explains how the results of a recent board of education survey shows that a lack of transparency killed a $230 million bond effort in January.
The Hoboken Board of Education has recently released its findings of a survey they had sent out requesting feedback regarding the bond referendum vote that was held this past January.
I view this survey as a first concrete step in incorporating the views and ideas of Hoboken into any future bond proposals and a key indicator that the board recognizes the need to involve others in the process.
As someone who was very actively involved in the campaign against the bond referendum, I was delighted to have another opportunity to see what our fellow Hoboken residents had thought about the vote.
I personally am a big proponent of funding public education and recognize the need to properly and ethically raise money to ensure all students in Hoboken can achieve an excellent education.
After parsing through the qualitative raw data it became apparent that there was one overwhelming central theme in both the “Vote Yes” and “Vote No” groups: Process.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of the “Vote No” respondents cited a lack of transparency as a major red flag and unequivocally laid the blame on the Board of Education for their decision to not announce the bond prior to the November election.
What was surprising was that a substantial portion of the “Vote Yes” respondents noted that while they did vote to support the project, they were bothered by the lack of transparency from the Board.
Summarily, the prevailing point is that regardless of one’s opinion of the project itself, there was a near universal dislike of how the vote was conducted.
During the weeks leading up to the bond vote it was repeatedly stated by the board’s attorney that nothing illegal had taken place regarding the timing of the vote and that the Board had fulfilled the minimum time period in order to hold the vote.
I believe that we should aim to be better than “not illegal” and to lead by example showing that Hoboken will not slide back into its past of questionable political choices but to be a leader in Hudson County in open government and community-based action.
As many of us know, in any organization the tone set by leadership permeates through the entire organization, and if the only standards we have are the legality of our actions, we should demand we raise the bar and take ethics and morality into account when deciding how to proceed.
While I do not assign any specific fault to any particular member of the board of education, I do think that at its core the way the vote was handled was simply a byproduct of groupthink and a lack of awareness of the needs and feelings of the wider Hoboken community.
I realize and empathize with that the board’s primary concern is the day to day education of our students, but when it is time for something like a bond referendum, and to reiterate I do believe we need a bond passed to fund our education, we need to adopt a different approach on how we engage the voters who ultimately have the final say on a referendum.
I look forward to seeing how the Hoboken Board of Education plans to further engage our community so we can build a better bond together.