HACKENSACK, NJ -- Three “Hackensack Smart Schools Team” candidates running in Tuesday’s Board of Education election, and members of the City Council, all say they will be voting Yes on the school budget. The candidates also say they want to “immediately” replace an ancient heating system for the Fanny Hillers School that failed several times last winter.

“If we don’t move fast and purchase a new boiler now, it will be another long cold winter for the children and staff at Hillers School and that is simply unacceptable,” said Lara Rodriguez, BOE President. Rodriguez is running with Michael Scott James-Vickery and Ira Goodman on the Smart Schools ticket.

“We are supporting the budget but our first order of business when we win on Tuesday will be to reallocate about $2 million earmarked for new construction and use those funds to buy that Hillers School Boiler and address other urgent safety needs,” said James-Vickery.

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At Tuesday night’s City Council Meeting, Deputy Mayor Kathy Canestrino, who chaired the meeting because Mayor John Labrosse was ill, said that she and the rest of the Labrosse Team will also vote Yes on the school budget. “We really have a lot of confidence in these Smart Schools candidates because they share our determination to renovate our existing schools and conduct a real Needs Assessment before considering any new construction. This is why almost 80% of the voters rejected the $170 million referendum on January 22.”

"This Tuesday there is an important Board of Education election," said Deputy Mayor David Sims. "I am supporting the Hackensack Smart School ticket, and I am also voting yes for the school budget."

Acting School Superintendent Rosemary Marks previously said that the Hillers boiler would have to wait until another referendum is passed. The Smart Schools Team says their opponents share that view. But Board Vice President Timothy Hoffman and his “For Hackensack’s Future” slate dispute this. Hoffman was one of the failed referendum’s strongest supporters.

“Our team has never in any way mentioned a second referendum,” said Hoffman. “We are happy to hear that there is now unanimous support for vital facilities upgrades, which we have advocated for all along.”

Hoffman’s statement did not specifically mention the Hillers School boiler issue and his position
on using new construction funds to pay for a replacement boiler is not clear.

Hoffman is running with Yvette Washington Irving and Basim Ahmad.

“Hoffman and the Board Majority are effectively holding the Hillers School hostage until they can get their $100 Million new school,” said Goodman. “This is political extortion and another example of their arrogance and disdain for the taxpayer. We support Smart School spending and renovating and upgrading our current schools immediately.”