10.17.18: We are excited to share that the city council voted to approve a new waterfront hotel deal in Hoboken, including a $1million endowment to Hoboken Public Education Foundation. Below are our remarks from the city council meeting:
Good evening, my name is Jackie Dowd Prince. I am one of the co-founders of Hoboken Public Education Foundation. I am speaking today on behalf of our board, including Hannah Gordon, Melissa Shepherd, Leslie Norwood, Danielle Moss and Kate Deer as well as my co-founders Erica Gavin and Shirael Pollack -- who due to medical issues, could not be with us this evening.
Thank you very much to Mayor Bhalla, the city council members and to KMS Development Partners for negotiating this significant waterfront hotel deal. We are truly excited and honored to be part of this historic moment.
We want to tell you about our Foundation, why we exist, the successes and needs of our schools and why this is such an important moment for ALL of us.
In 2014, at a time when district school budgets were being slashed, we started asking: What can be done? We learned about education foundations - 501(c)(3) non-profits that could solicit and collect private donations to fund specific initiatives within the schools. Education foundations are very common - existing in areas like Weehawken, Summit and Chatham. Our local charter schools had their own non-profit arm through which to solicit private funds, but this vehicle did not exist in the Hoboken Public (district) Schools.
So, a few moms solicited the skills of other district parents: lawyers, Wall Street professionals, fundraisers, event planners, but most of all, we found engaged parents who loved their schools and wanted to make a difference.
Since inception in 2015, HPEF has been able to fund important initiatives in the district schools. As examples, we have been able to increase the size of the district’s chromebook lending library for children who do not have access; elementary and middle schoolers will learn about the Hudson river ecosystem through our Living Classroom touch and wall tanks; and the high school has a state-of-the-art sound system for its K-12 musicals and district-wide events.
We consult with superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson to ensure that the items we fund bring the most needed benefits to our students. And under her leadership, the district continues to make tremendous strides, including:
95% of high school students received college acceptances this past year -- and scholarships increased from 4 million to over 13 million dollars
Created a brand new Middle School in partnership with the Stevens Institute to conceptualize its Hudson River based Indoor Living Classroom and outdoor activity park
And this year we are expecting the “National Schools of Distinction” award for all our elementary schools for their Project Lead the Way STEM programs
But one could argue that one of the biggest markers for success is increased enrollment. HPS has been growing exponentially over the last several years. In just the past 10 months alone, the schools grew from 1880 students to just over 2000 today. While this is a wonderful testament to the growing confidence in our schools, our funding does not increase for these additional students. The school does not receive a per student type funding. Nor does our funding increase for the special needs students, many of whom have 1:1 teaching to student instruction needs. In fact this year, our funding declined 5% and will continue to decline over the next few years.
Over the past couple of weeks, our board has felt the support and energy of our public district parents, who are asking how they can get more involved and what they can do to make sure we are heard. Parents are asking us about one of the things they value most -- their children’s education….and this is where you all come in. Hoboken has become a town that families are committed to calling home. The school-aged population will continue to grow, and our district schools will be the primary recipients of this growth. Hoboken’s support will be critical to our success in meeting this challenge.
THIS is why the generous $1 million dollar endowment from KMS Development Partners - the first ever community giveback to benefit the Hoboken Public district schools - is so meaningful and will have such a tremendous impact on our community. We are honored to be on the receiving end of this generous commitment - one that not only reflects the developer’s long-standing support of district public schools but also provides equity of opportunity. Thank you, Dennis and Betty Martin!
Communities are strengthened when public schools are thriving, and we are grateful that these funds will help us continue our mission of elevating and enhancing the Hoboken Public Schools -- and in turn, the entire Hoboken community.
Thank you all for your support of this proposal and HPEF.