LETTER: Parents United Hoboken BOE slate will curb excessive spending

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In a letter to the editor, Hoboken Board of Education candidate Jessica Nelson, of the Parents United team, says her three-person slate will help curb excessive spending in the public school district.

Parents United

Dear Editor,

Jennifer, Chipper and I are proud to be engaged in a positive campaign for all of Hoboken’s children. We are the choice for the Hoboken parents, community and voters who are looking for efficient and successful education programs.

We look forward to working with Superintendent Johnson to continue the important work of strengthening our schools and building a brighter future for Hoboken’s children.

Expensive consultants and legal fees prevent tax dollars from being spent on the students and are a poor excuse for raising taxes 4% each year for the last 4 years.

We need to stop raising taxes and chasing families out of Hoboken and begin working with local stakeholders to develop an educational strategy that prepares our students for the workplace of tomorrow.

Our group, Parents United, is proud to be running a positive campaign for Hoboken’s children and is stepping up to the plate 365 days a year.

We know that, as parents and community members, our opposition has a divergent opinion regarding the steps and priorities required to make a better education for all of Hoboken’s children.

We hope they agree that the parents of Hoboken should be united for our children’s future and that as involved parents and community members we can move beyond the petty factionalism common in Hoboken elections so that we can be civil with, and helpful to, each other.

Our message of collaborating with local stakeholders to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), cutting out budget bloat, saying no to family-hurting tax hikes for non-student spending, and focusing on growing the High School resonates with Hoboken parents.

More important than resonating with the community – it’s the right thing to do. Parents United is bringing real solutions door to door and every day to build a brighter future for Hoboken’s children.

Sincerely,

Jessica Nelson

Parents United

11 COMMENTS

  1. Jessica, your claim that expensive consultants and legal fees are the reason for the 4% tax increase are UNSUPPORTED by fact. I do not blame you, because you are being fed misinformation by Peter Biancamano, who does not sit on the Finance Committee, and apparently does not understand the reasons for the tax increase, or does and is feeding you garbage. Tax increases were forced for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, the increase of student enrollment, a 2% cap by the Christie administration, and expansion of the HoLa charter school during that time. There has been no substantial increase in “legal fees” and if you have been paying attention, contributions from concerned parents and Hoboken Taxpayers are subsidizing the district’s legal costs in the Appeal, which is supported by the ACLU. Biancamano is a disgrace for sending you out with these talking points.

    • I agree with the other parent. This is not a real issue. Candidates for Hoboken Board of Education should discuss real and important issues, not bogus facts.:(

    • What is a disgrace is the fact that you are stating that someone should have to sit on your exclusionary “by invitation only” Finance Committee in order to understand the Hoboken District Budget which is public money. The numbers should be transparent – these are public dollars that are being spent and real tax increases that get swept under the carpet every year. For FY 2015 I either attended the BOE meetings or viewed them from tape and read all the minutes to become informed about the budget. What taxpayer should have to spend that much time interpreting the Budget? I presented a question about why taxes were increasing 3.9 % increase without a public vote. To those not informed that will read this – a school budget with an increase over 2% from prior year must go for a public vote in an election. But of course there is the fine print – . The law exempts cost increases for health care, pensions, debt service, states of emergency and increased school enrollment. It also considers increases over three years, so that a local government that raises taxes by less than 2 percent in one year can “bank” the difference and exceed the cap over the following two years.

      In FY 2015 the breakdown of the tax increase was something like this

      Banked Cap $177,113 0.47%
      2 % CAP without public vote $758,930 2.00%
      Difference – Student enrollment ?? $543,870 1.43%

      I asked what is the $543K or 1.43% increase attributed to? i.e. which so called “exemption” are you using? Ultimately I got called back up and brushed off with a “projected student enrollment” increase answer of 93 kids – seriously did we have 93 increase in K to 12 in any recent year. But when that “projection” doesn’t come to fruition guess what? The money doesn’t come back to the taxpayers it just build into the base from which the next year’s increase is calculated.

      Where is the budgeted enrollment tracked to actual enrollment by grade? Why is that not reported at every meeting? Why don’t we know how many school choice kids there are in the high school? We are only shown projected enrollments never actual compared to projection. When you OPRA the information it is never transparent and never show increase in total enrollment k to 12 (excluding pre-K which is separated by state aid not local tax)

      So where does the money go?

      • The disgrace is your own analysis of the 4% tax increase does not support Jessica Nelson’s charges about “legal fees” and “expensive consultants.”

        The disgrace is that you, a Trustee of your own board, does not make YOUR budgets and other expenses, including staff, transparent and available to the public. If taxpayer money is routed through the Hoboken district to you, then taxpayers have a right to know HOW you are spending it, the qualifications of persons your are hiring and how much you are paying them. In fact, its a disgrace that the public can not elect your Board members, to ensure that you are spending our money properly. Where’s your transparency? Why can’t the Hoboken BoE and the public see how you are spending taxpayer money? I challenge your Board to post it online, in the same format and line-item detail that the Hoboken district does.

        The disgrace is that your own unelected advisors/board is stacked with corrupt former Hoboken district Board Trustees who looted the Hoboken district schools used our classroom money as a personal slush fund, and budgets to the tune of million of dollars, just over the years where audits were available.

        The disgrace is that your board (and the campaigns you work on) have for YEARS relied on attacks against district schools made by Deputy Assistant Superintendant Anthony Petrosino- the same Petrosino who certified to writing hundreds of vile attacks against the Hoboken Schools under pseudonyms “Curious Gal” and “prosbus,” who lost his lawsuit against the HBoE and is obsessed with taking down the individuals who did not renew his contract in 2009 (he did not have a contract his first year in the Hoboken schools) so that he could continue DOUBLE-DIPPING: $144K from Hoboken taxpayers + income from teaching in Austin CONCURRENTLY. Right, a fulltime job and a jobe in Austin. This is the kind of person you entrust with your district’s children. Sad.

        The disgrace is that the people whom you align yourself with eke across the finish lines by vote-buying.

        The disgrace is, your school pushed out the Hoboken Boys and Girls Club (which concurrently jacked up fees beyond the means of the population they serve)- without a conscience, apparently. Where are those kids now? Who is preparing meals for them as was done for hungry kids at the Boys and Girls Club?

        It’s a disgrace to feed Jessica Nelson nonsensical talking points about “rising legal fees” and “expensive consultants.” It’s a disgrace she can’t rebut a comment herself, but relies on YOU come to the rescue to attack the schools (again) and leave the big questions unanswered.

        Oh yeah, nobody asked if YOU attended BoE meetings- YOU are not a candidate. Clearly uninformed persons are the proxies for your agenda and those with whom you align yourself.

        Where does the money go? Into the classrooms- where it didn’t go when your “friends” were using the school budget as a slush fund, taking friends to Atlantic city, buying cell phones and steak dinners, putting 1,050 people on the payroll. The President of the Board the year of this pillaging is a Trustee on your school board.

        You are a disgrace.

        • Diversionary? Which part? The part about Costomiris not addressing the candidate’s false assertion that “legal fees” and “expensive consultants” were behind the 4% tax increase? Costimiris is an officer of the campaign- the Treasurer, not the candidate. Presuming she understands the District Budget, cherry-picks numbers to avoid a very large elephant in the room- $2.3M of the tax increase was due to rising Charter School costs- and to evade my ORIGINAL point that the CANDIDATE’s falsse assertions about legal fees (they didn’t rise) and “expensive consuants” (don’t understand that one- hope she can explain).

          Now, Costimiris bitched loudly about lack of transparency re: expenditure of taxpayer money. So, why is it diversionary to note there is ZERO transparency in her district’s budget on how taxpayer money is being spent AND the fact that known pilferer’s of Hoboken district money now control her districts money- the source is my pocket! Requesting transparency for how my money is being spent, is not “diversionary.”

          Now, it is arguable that you have resorted to “Trump” tactics by attempting to dismiss my argument with name-calling like “Trump-like tactics.” Apparently you are not following the national election closely. Trump is a mega-narcissist, its all about him. The substantive factual information presented above is about no one person, it is in the interest of the community, of the public, of protecting the Hoboken children from the political machine behind Parents United.

  2. And to set the record straight on more BOE Math and HoLa funding here is how the HoLa expansion was accounted for and reported by the Exclusive Finance Committee of the Hoboken BOE:

    A) Hoboken BOE budget projected FY 2014 funding to HoLa of $2,567,275 based on projected enrollment of 230 Hoboken residents.

    B) Hoboken BOE budget actually funded $2,410,954 based on 10/15/13 actual count of 214 Hoboken residents.

    C) Hoboken BOE budget projected FY 2015 funding to HoLa of $2,986,730 based on projected enrollment of 255 Hoboken residents.

    BOE reported in their budget FY 2015 presentation that there was a $575,776 increase in the budget for HoLa funding over prior year ( C-B). When you present a budget increase over the prior year’s budget you typically use the prior year budget to do the calculation (C-A). In which case the corrected budget increase would have been $419,455. (HoLa parents questioned this because they know we only have 44 kids incoming every year and we get less than $11,000 in funding so $575,776 was unrealistic but they didn’t get a straight answer either)

    What is also problematic here is that the projected enrollment cost of $2,567,275 versus the actual cost of $2,410,954 or $156,321 was not refunded to the taxpayers. Since you budgeted more than you spent on the HoLa expansion you could have used that to offset the next year’s expansion and reduce the next year’s tax bill.

    When I questioned that I was told was that money is fungible and the difference just goes to fund balance. Really? Isn’t the purpose of a line item budget and fund accounting to track that line by line and not commingle things so the transparency is lost?

  3. At least now we know who really wrote that letter. Ms. Nelson merely signed on their behalf. So much for integrity and transparency in PU.

  4. When I look at the at the long history of corruption of the people behind Ms. Nelson and her ticket I have to say, NO.

    To me anyone with a shred of integrity would not be involved in any way with these people.

  5. I would like to see specifics of your plans to accomplish all of this. I’d also like to see your plans to get funds back into public schools instead of HoLa and new taxpayer-funded schools for the children of wealthy residents.

  6. “stepping up to the plate 24/7”? What a joke. How about stepping up to the plate in your own children’s school. It’s embarrassing the lack of involvement for someone who Has nothing but Criticism for his children’s school. Shame on you.

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