Breaking: Connors School Funding Frozen

5/25/2010 UPDATE:

Loss of Connors funding confirmed

Hoboken’s poorest students will continue to attend its most run-down school now that state funding to renovate Connors is gone.

As Hoboken411 reported first, Republican Governor Chris Christie has put the kibosh on the long awaited project, instead funding many others across the state.

After 411 broke the news today, a letter from state Schools Development Authority Mike Larkins outlining the rejection made it’s way into our inbox. Interim Schools Superintendent Peter Carter has some egg on his face today after telling 4th ward residents just last week that the Connors project was on track, and that he and Mayor Dawn Zimmer would be “leading a parade of Connors students to their temporary home at Demarest” on the first day of school.

Assemblyman Ramos wants Connors funding restored

Assemblyman (and former 4th Ward / Councilman At-large) Ruben Ramos is appealing to restore the funding. In a letter to the Governor today, Ramos says Connors is “in dire need of repair” and “upgrades are essential.” In addition to the plan to bring Connors into the 21st century, there are also structural repairs needed for the building. Christie rejected facilities funding for areas once considered “Abbott” districts, but is funding many projects in non-Abbott districts.

A list of 142 approved projects was outlined in a press release today.

Funding for leased space at St. Francis also canceled

Adding insult to Hoboken’s injury, the NJSDA is also canceling its funding support for the Abbott pre-K facility rental at St. Francis. This could become a de-facto tax increase, since the Board of Ed may have to decide whether it will continue to pay the lease with Hoboken tax dollars. All this on top of the Governor’s proposed cuts in the school breakfast and lunch program, which would effect the vast majority of Hoboken’s public school kids currently eligible for free meals. Still no official comment on this news from Superintendent Carter, the Board of Education, or the Mayor’s office.

5/25/2010:

Sources: Gov. Christie halts Connors School renovations

Just days after Mayor Dawn Zimmer rolled out the red carpet for Governor Chris Christie, his Department of Education has apparently rescinded approval for the state-funded Connors Elementary School rehabilitation project. Today, Christie’s Schools Development Authority announced the latest round of grants for 142 projects in 59 school districts.

Hoboken wasn’t on that list.

Connors money held up for at least a year, possibly forever

Sources tell Hoboken411 the state informed Hoboken school administrators late last week that funding for the $33 million Connors School rehab would be frozen for at least a year as the Christie Administration reviews major school grants statewide. Sources say the district – led by interim Superintendent Peter Carter – has been refusing to confirm or deny this information. School Board trustees not associated with the Kids First majority have been asking the administration to confirm or deny this news, with no response.

Is the money gone, or is it? Was it ever there?

That’s the answer the public deserves to know now before the already disruptive student shell game around school buildings begins this summer. As a result of Superintendent Carter’s insistence that the money for Connors was coming, a massive reorganization of buildings began. Last November Carter announced 400 Connors kids will be sent to Demarest next year, sending the Hoboken Charter School scrambling for a new location. The announcements came before the district had a check in hand from the state to begin the renovations, planned for this August.

Carter insisted Hoboken would get the money

As late as a meeting last week at the Hoboken Housing Authority, Superintendent Carter was challenged on his confidence that the money would be released for Connors. He insisted it would, and (according to one witness) dismissed out of hand anyone who claimed it wouldn’t. Now, if the rumors are true – and they are supported by the SDA’s release today – the Connors renovation is in jeopardy thanks to the new mood in Trenton.

Before the last election Dawn Zimmer joined with other Democrats in endorsing Governor Jon Corzine because she said, “He would be best for Hoboken.” Last week her embrace of Governor Christie enraged many local Democrats, who say a Republican move to pull funding for the Connors School project may be just the beginning.

This story is breaking… more as details become available.

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62 Comments on "Breaking: Connors School Funding Frozen"

tburns
Member

Connors was built in 1908!!! To visit a school in need of repair – tour Demarest. My father (now 85) remembers it as Demarest High School – built before the Wright brothers flew or the Model T was sold. Children are STILL educated there.
I just don’t understand those who think that the children of Hoboken deserve the Abbott facilities funding LESS than the children of any other community. To view the inequity – compare the new schools that we were PROMISED – located next to the substation in the northwest section of town with the ‘Eagles Nest’ on Kennedy Blvd. in Union City.

ohnoivotedforher
Member
ohnoivotedforher

Based on reading Mayor Zimmer’s letter to Gov Chirstie. The Mayor listed many severe structural issues.

For get the money, knock it down and start with a new structure. The state may be more apt to help if it knows Gov Christie’s name can go on the front of it.

tburns
Member

The faciities funding is not included in the cost-per-student. The only Abbott money reflected in that (incorrect) 25k per student number is for early childhood.

myprettypony
Member
myprettypony

I don’t see how you can say that Hoboken didn’t get its fair share with a straight face. As I and many others pointed out here, Hoboken spends 25K per student. Hoboken got more than its “fair share”. The school administrators outrageously mismanaged funds and I am glad that they are not getting any more money to throw down the toilet.

As for Abbott making an even playing field for NJ’s poorer cities and towns, it really has done nothing to improve schools. Giving school districts money does not equal better schools and smarter students. What really matters are involved parents who care about their children’s educatiion. You are just not going to get that with many of Hoboken’s poorer families. That is not to say that there aren’t many hard working poor families who are involved and want their children to succeed. IME, these are the families who have children who are able to break the mold and leave the projects and have successful lives.

tburns
Member
$$4.2 Billion to Abbotts. Yes, the state pays most of operating as well as facility costs for the majority of larger urban districts. The basis of the 20+ year court case was that the NJ education funding formula created an unfair and unequal system wherein children who lived and attended public schools in wealthier districts received a qualitiatively superior education. The money was intended to to rectify that imbalance and in doing so shifted funding toward the Abbotts (now 31 districts). Out in the suburbs, unrest and resentment toward the Abbotts has been growing. There is a strong, organized movement to end what many perceive as the theft of suburbanites’ tax dollars to fund corruption and mismanagement. Hoboken was an early poster child for the movement, but Newark, Camden, Paterson provide enough evidence that the money has not always been well spent. One result has been that the formula has been changed so that now “aid follows the child”. Which, IMHO if properly implemented, is better. Hoboken has always been an anomaly. Our DFG shows us to be a wealthy community, yet the majority of children in district (still) qualify for free and reduced price lunch. A disproportionate percentage of our younger children who live in poverty attend Connors. They are precisely the children the law was intended to help. Two years ago health and safety issues at Connors were abated. These unfunded renovations are just that. With the passage of time the Capital improvement needs of the district have… Read more »
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