LETTER: ‘Kids First’ Hoboken BOE team will be committed to transparency, candidates say


In a letter to the editor, the “Kids First” Hoboken Board of Education team says they will be committed to transparency and community engagement.

The “Kids First” Hoboken Board of Education slate. From left to right: Cindy Wiegand, Donna Magen, and Pavel Sokolov.

Dear Editor,

Despite the defeat of the $241 million Hoboken High School referendum in January, the Hoboken Board of Education (BOE) can bring a second referendum for a new high school to Hoboken voters as early as January 2023.

If Hoboken again votes ‘no’ on the referendum, there is a path by which the BOE could appeal to the State of New Jersey Board of Education to override the will of the voters.

Yes, you read this correctly, we may still be on the hook for new construction even if the community votes ‘no’ again.

Following a second referendum defeat, the Hoboken BOE is empowered to seek to have the unelected State Board of Education mandate construction of a new high school.

The BOE and State can usurp the voting preference of Hoboken residents yet require that homeowners and renters take on the expense to fund this decision for decades to come.

This is not a hypothetical: Just a few years ago, residents in Freehold, NJ voted down a school facilities expansion two times only to have the Freehold Board of Education convince the state to override Freehold voters.

Every community member should get informed and vote in the BOE election on November 8th. Kids First is committed to transparency and accountability and we hope by getting to know us over the next month, we earn your trust and your vote on Nov 8th.

The Kids First slate understands there are pressing infrastructure and facilities needs for our district and will arrive at solutions through a transparent process and in a fiscally responsible manner.

We will rigorously evaluate costs, including construction and recurring operational costs, as well as place the necessary focus on educational enhancements and outcomes. We give you our unwavering commitment to do so with community input and discussion.

The Kids First slate will bring creative solutions and new thinking to control costs and optimize space. For example, we will tap the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, which has money to subsidize NJ school facilities, as one source.

We are the only team up for election with a member experienced in going directly to Trenton and securing funding for education.

Also, we will enlist City Council and other elected officials to evaluate the full spectrum of existing and new space available to ensure we are optimizing resources to ease the burden on residents who already have the stress of rising costs in every aspect of their lives.

Importantly, we will make clear the ‘why’ behind what is happening and explain any alternatives that were considered.

The Kids First slate is committed to moving from secretive dealings to community discussion.

We believe our role is to advocate for children and education and to do so by listening to the community and the will of the voters.

The Kids First Team
Pavel Sokolov
Cindy Wiegand
Donna Magen

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  1. This is a great succinct message from the Kids First school board slate. Everyone needs to come out on November 8th to vote in this election!! These are trying times and with inflation and the turmoil all around us in the world, the best thing we can do right now is to really care and go out and vote in the November election. This Board of Ed slate will really turn things around for the Hoboken school system that will benefit the children and the citizens, and that means all citizens–renters and owners, parents and non-parents. These guys are truly committed to do things effectively, efficiently, with an eye on costs. It is all about the best education offered to the students and the best way to utilize Hoboken’s existing schools, as well as doing the necessary upgrades without extravagant waste. Good luck Kids First!!

  2. Where is the required “Paid for by” verbiage on the advertisement on this page? Who or WHAT is paying? Hoboken Republicans or Hudson County Young Republicans?

    NOT transparent.

    Oh yeah, Kids First NON-TRANSPARENTLY edited the name on Pavel’s ” Vote No” Facebook page to read “Kids First”. That means Pavel hijacked all of the “likes” from the original page. Ask Pavel: do all of those “likes” really like your slate? NO! SHADY!

      • The plot thickens!

        Not very transparent to run a Hoboken School Board campaign from NORTH BERGEN???? Who or what lives at 1021 Paterson Plank Road in North Bergen? That’s the KF campaign mailing address?

        Not transparent at all … shady shady shady.

        • There is nothing shady about using an address in Hudson County. You did not ask the right question. It can be someone’s office. The question that you should ask is “Who’s office is at that address.”

          As GI Joe always said at the end of the show. “Knowing if half the battle!”

      • Is this our version of ‘It’? The sewerage authority clown that spends our money and doesn’t know anything much about anything other than saying ‘yes’ to anything the SA puts in front of him while collecting a check? Stephen King would be terrified.

  3. If just one member of the current HBOE had been fully transparent and honest from the get go about their outrageously expensive spending plans instead of stonewalling the public the vote on the HS would have been 95% NO.

  4. Unclear why you and others keep trying to pigeonhole Kids First as some big, bad Republican operation. Yes, Pavel is a Republican. Cant say I know him but 2x I met him seems like not a wacko but normal NJ Republican and a thoughtful one too

    Donna is a Democrat.

    Cindy is unaffiliated. Her husband is behind the scenes Democratic bigwig.

    Try arguing on substance. KF is pitching openness and responsibility. The other team is pitching snake oil.

  5. Eight months later, still nothing meaningful from the current board, which makes the Freehold case all the more alarming. We cannot allow the current board, even 7 of them, to go back behind closed doors without some new independent voices in the room. We cannot have our Education system run in a vacuum. What we have is clearly broken and we need to fix it and it starts right here. Kids First!

  6. I read this article and comments and I’m lost at how the slate is Kid’s First. An honest question – What are you doing to do focused on the kids?
    This all seems just anti-referendum, anti-current board?
    The kids need new BOE members to rise above that and advocate on THEIR behalf.

    • They stand for NOTHING but grievances over the referendum… they even used the “Vote No” Facebook page for their campaign! They changed the page title! Lazy, oppositional campaign. About nothing. Even the name “Kids First” is trolling the original 2009 Kids First. Coincidentally, those 2009 reform pioneers support Leadership that Listens.

      • You could actually try reading their platform, this is obviously just one of many policy letters. I believe ltl policies are to cover up their involvement in the referendum, and try to maintain the status quo that led to a nearly empty Hs

        • http://hudsoncountyview.com/hoboken-dad-who-beat-criminal-case-files-suit-alleging-false-arrest-imprisonment-slander/

          ““Shortly thereafter, and, upon information and belief in coordination with the Police Department, Plaintiffs alleged ‘neighbor,’ Cademartori, called LaBruno. She reported false and inflammatory irrelevant hearsay information over a month old about Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit states.

          “Cademartori gave this information knowing that it was false or at the very least likely false, and with the specific malicious intent of harming Michael. Cademartori falsely alleged that Faikum [Michael’s wife] complained to a third-party (who was never questioned) that Michael was verbally abusive and controlling of the couple’s assets.”

  7. What garbage.

    The “broken” team under Dr. Johnson has done AMAZING things in and for our schools- you don’t know obviously, your head is empty of everything except grievances. Under Dr. Johnson, HHS students are reaping historic scholarship grants and acceptances at America’s most competitive schools– far greater than High Tech HS. Clearly you have no idea about LTL’s proposals to support education in the classrooms, nor have you seen their detailed platform.

    “Transparency” is not a platform, it’s a promise– already broken by KF by censoring Wiegand’s bio. You would never know she already serves on the Board of “Friends of Hoboken Charter”, where her 3 kids attend. That’s dishonest.

    Face it, your blind support for this slate is predicated on anger and grievance over the failed referendum, not what is best for our schools and our kids cause you’re too lazy to inform yourself. It’s all out there online- on Facebook and the web. Lazy, angry you.

    • Curious why you’re so obsessed that one candidate is a charter parent? Maybe if the ltl and BoE weren’t so rabidly anti charter and private then more kids would attend the High School.

    • What is dishonest is Antonio Grana saying that he is a leader that listens when he didn’t listen as a leader of the vote yes campaign. What is dishonest is Leslie Norwood telling people that she held her nose and voted yes when she was a vocal referendum supporter. What is dishonest is saying that Alex De La Torre is a leader who listens, when he kept the referendum secret for 3 YEARS. LTL are a bunch of phonies who are trying to distract you from their failings as leaders by claiming that Kids First is a secret right wing cabal. Don’t believe the hype because the original Kids First lost their way outside of Rose Markle and Leon Gold. The remaining original Kids First supporters who support the LTL cabal are Irene Sobolov who embarrassed herself with the “butt buddies” scandal and with her staunch support of the $330 million sports complex, Theresa Minutillo who lost her way as a reformer as she now supports government secrecy, and someone who now lives in Westfield, NJ and lectures us on what to do with their votes. Leadership That Lies needs to be stopped!