Op-Ed: ‘I believe our kids are worth it’ so I’ll vote yes on $241M Hoboken school referendum


In an editorial, Hoboken resident Ron Bautista explains why he will be voting yes on the $241 million school referendum, stating “I believe our kids are worth it.”

The 2004 Hoboken High School soccer team. Photo courtesy of Ron Bautista.

Landing a role as vice president at one of America’s top 20 companies is a game-changing professional leap for a Latino immigrant like me. I’m a U.S. citizen now, but that’s not where my story began; I lived as an undocumented immigrant in Hoboken for 11 years.

I was born in Ecuador, and because of political and corporate corruption, my parents and I had to leave our homes just like hundreds of thousands of families did in 1999.

I always say how lucky I am, since although it was a long process at least I had a path to citizenship. That life experience marked me, became part of my identity, and part of my continuous battle with myself against imposter syndrome.

I graduated from Hoboken High School in 2004 because my parents made that choice. Although they had degrees from Ecuador, they were led to believe that they could not work in their field. They ended up working for themselves, cleaning homes all around Hoboken.

Something that always stuck with me was how certain people would tell my dad “why are you wearing pants and a button up shirt? You work cleaning houses for a living, you should wear old, worn-out clothes.”

My dad saw that comment for what it was, a way to put him down and diminish his work, and so he would reply: “I define the image of my work, and the way I dress expresses the respect of who I am as a worker.”

He knew his value, we priced accordingly (I also cleaned homes) and he made a job that to many was a “low-skill job”, into an essential one.

That’s the message I want to send to our kids on January 25th by voting YES for the new public Hoboken High School; that they’re worth the investment.

I believe there’s growth in solidarity; that when we look out for each other, we all grow as a community. I wanted to share some answers to the criticisms on the proposed high school:

Why the Physical Therapy room? It’s intended to serve special needs students.

Why the Wellness studio? It’s for mindfulness and meditation, which are part of how the school district achieved the NJ Lighthouse status for restorative justice processes. The New Jersey Department of Education launched this status to recognize school districts and charter schools for “illuminating the path toward educational improvement and equitable outcomes.”

Why the new pool? We have a high school and middle school swim team, which now includes 5th graders as well. Right now the only pool is in the current high school building.

Why the gyms? 8 year olds have rec basketball games at 8pm because there is so little gym space. They’re using Wallace most of the time because the high school one is full. This project brings an additional two gyms: a gym and an aux gym in the new high school, so that the existing gym at the high school building would be for the middle school.

Why the ice rink? It has been an ask I’ve heard from the community for years. In terms of Hoboken High School, the current team now gets bussed to Bayonne for ice time, our district pays Bayonne for the rink as well as the bus rides.

So having our own rink will have a growing number of Hoboken kids staying in Hoboken, and it is a potential revenue generator that can help cover incremental costs associated with community facilities.

I understand the frustration about the timing of the vote; I’m a voter and taxpayer just like you.

This vote is a first step to keeping our representatives accountable, and together we can ensure these facilities are also open to the community at large.

The way I see it, voting against this proposal won’t be a vote against the process. Voting “no” really means denying the many infrastructure needs for all of our kids. I believe our kids are worth it, and I’m “yes” on January 25.

Ron Bautista, Class of 2004, Hoboken High School

Editor’s note: Ron Bautista is also the president of the Progressive Democrats of Hudson County. 

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  1. Who is he kidding? He works at a greedy wall street company that makes its money from billionaires, takeovers and raiding companies when the go public.
    He’s the not the wolf of wall street, more like the lapdog

  2. Voting against this particular plan just means the BOE will have to go back, work with the stakeholders of our community, and come back with a better plan. It’s that simple. If you think this plan is the best thing since sliced bread, then vote “yes”. If you don’t know enough about it because of the way it has been rolled out, then vote “no”. If you don’t like the plan, then vote “no”.

    Voting “no” isn’t a vote against education or kids, it’s a vote against this plan, nothing more. For the sake of our children and their futures and our community, I implore you to vote “NO”. Send to BOE back to come up with a plan that works for our kids and our community.

  3. “This vote is a first step to keeping our representatives accountable…”

    Absolutely, agree 100%. That’s the exact point I’ve been hammering for the past month. And the only way to do that is to Vote NO.

  4. Ronald claims he’s concerned about Rent Control and affordability, well Wall Street Ron, maybe now that you are making big bucks you can pay the $400 more on average, but not all

    So much for your progressive politics…. FRAUD
    How tone deaf can you be?

  5. Progressive Democrats of Hudson County wanting to raise your taxes? You don’t say…

    “And it is a potential revenue generator that can help cover incremental costs associated with community facilities.”

    All revenues go to the Board of Eduction – not to the community. And do you really think they’re going to be community facilities? How often have you swam laps at the current high school pool? Boy, it’s really great to get an early morning run in on the track at JFK! Thank you for all the community use!

    “This vote is a first step to keeping our representatives accountable, and together we can ensure these facilities are also open to the community at large.”

    This says it all. “So, you got caught trying to sneak this by the taxpayers of Hoboken, eh? Well, why don’t we add another $50M in, uh, ‘contingency,’ yeah? You probably meant well. Here you go, Ravi. Have a cookie. And join me and my Progressive Democrat friends. Together, we CAN make America Cuba.”

    By the way, the facilities WONT be open to the community. We will actually lose a tennis court, a basketball court, and the public restrooms at Columbus Park.

  6. I have been going to every meeting the board has held on the new high school–that is all the meetings that they finally allowed the public access, to learn about this gargantuan sports complex. This board is misguided and needs help from the community in deciding what is best to help students increase their test scores. The board looked at the public at these meetings with a snobbish deer-in-the-headlights look as though they were thinking: ‘Why is the public against this?? Gee, this huge building with a sports complex, that you as citizens have to bear the entire cost of $241 + $90 in interest over the next 30 years is good for the students.’ This board is out to lunch and is not living in †he real world. The superintendent said at the last meeting at the high school, that this new high school with all its extras will help these students in the world after they leave high school. I did not know that a hockey rink had such significant powers to aid them in the world of employment. Get real and stop trying to spend other people’s money on materialistic pipe dreams. Vote NO on January 25th–no matter how cold it is outside and turn up for the Hoboken Board meeting on Tuesday, January 11, at Demarest at 7:00 to speak at the public portion. This is the only meeting that the public is allowed to speak on this issue. The only meeting.

  7. Why have Dr. Johnson and Board of Education not made public the estimates of what it will cost to run this building and the changes to the other school buildings ? You know one was done. We know residents have asked for it to be made public.

    The referendum if passed, it alone will raise school taxes by 20%. There must also be a huge increase in costs for staffing and maintenance. The taxpayers should know in advance what they would be expected to pay.

  8. Ronald cant be supportive of low and affordable rents or rent control and support this can he?
    This bond will raise rent controlled units too. $40 per month Ronald That’s 480 more a year