HOBOKEN - The 2020-21 Hoboken Public Schools budget was passed earlier this month, to the tune of $83.8 million. Of that, Hoboken taxpayers are contributing $53.1 million—requiring a waiver from the New Jersey Department of Education to exceed the cap on the Distict's annual tax levy.
"Looking at the year ahead, the board was fiscally responsible and prioritized keeping the tax increase within the 2% cap ($960,000), which is meant to cover increases in contractual salaries/benefits, increases in normal operating costs as well as charter school funding," said Sharyn Angley, of the Hoboken Board of Education. "This year (and over the last few years), the district had significant State aid loss which was also absorbed by the 2% tax levy increase."
Angley maintains the loss in State aid, combined with a significant increase in enrollment—up from 1,939 two years ago to a projected 2,514 for 2020-21 (K-12)—required the District to go beyond that cap by an additional $3.7 million.
"NJ DOE assessed Hoboken's dramatic enrollment growth and provided the district with an additional enrollment adjustment tax levy waiver of 7.95% [on top of the allotted 2%] in order to educate these new students with additional teachers, instructional supplies, technology, and special education needs," said Angley.
The reduction in State aid has been an ongoing concern—not just in Hoboken but for districts statewide.
“In the past, student increases that size used to be covered by state aid,” said Angley. “The district's state aid has been cut by over $1 million in the past few years. The NJ DOE and the State of NJ believe that Hoboken should cover the ‘local fair share’ to fund new students, as opposed to state aid.”
Meanwhile, Hoboken’s enrollment trends continue to climb upward. Just last year, the BOE voted to convert Calabro Elementary School into an exclusively Pre-K facility to accommodate the demand.
“On top of the K-12 growth we are seeing, Pre-K enrollment is also growing each year,” said Angley. “In the 2020-2021 school year, we will add 4 Pre-K classrooms for a total of 70 classrooms or 1,050 students.”
Furthermore, the City of Hoboken is currently weighing an additional 5% tax increase for the third quarter, to cover its own municipal budget shortfalls.
***AUTHOR'S NOTE: We initially reported that Hoboken Public School’s 2020-21 budget of $83.3 million represents an expenditure of $23,373 per student (PreK-12). We were informed by the BOE that those numbers don't represent Charter School students. We've asked for a clarification from the BOE and will update this article when we have the appropriate information.
UPDATE: Sources have verified that $10,339,573 of the budget will be allocated to Charter Schools, which would put the Hoboken Public Schools expenditure per pupil (which includes State Pre-K funding) at $20,429—a figure we're using, after intense scrutiny, to give readers a perspective of the amount of money that will passes through the Hoboken Public School District for 2020-21.
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.