Hoboken Charter School Showdown

The topic of charter schools has been extensively discussed recently in the media, with exhaustive arguments both for and against them. With reductions in funding for education nationwide, the debate over charter schools has grown increasingly contentious.  This debate has resurfaced in Hoboken.

There are currently three charter schools in Hoboken, representing approximately 30% of the public student population. A proposed fourth school, DaVinci Charter School, has passed the first round of state approval. There are strong supporters and detractors of this school. I have been following along with the debate and have come across some useful resources that I would like to share with my blog readers to help you gain a deeper understanding of both sides and draw your own conclusions.

For complete details related to the proposed charter school, you can review the entire “DaVinci Charter School of Hoboken New Jersey Charter School Application,*” dated April 2, 2012.

Hoboken Board of Education member Irene Sobolov has responded to the DaVinci application. She encourages school choice and dialogue while raising concerns about funding and duplication of services. Concerned parents are raising signatures because they fear cuts to existing programs due to the need to find additional funding to cover the charter school costs.

Some discussion has revolved around the concept that there is a fixed amount of funding per student that moves with them. However, I have been told that public school savings take time to absorb because fixed operating expenses such as classrooms and personnel have to be maintained regardless of the number of students. Students entering charter schools tend to be drawn in small numbers from a range of schools and classrooms so cost savings are not immediately realized.

Proponents of the proposed DaVinci Charter School have attested to make the case that by increasing school choice it will encourage families with school-age children to remain in Hoboken. Opponents would point out that a new charter school might not be the optimal solution to the issue of family retention since many existing charter school students do not currently reside in Hoboken. Another concern voiced by opponents is that charter schools do not adequately meet the needs of special needs students, leaving the public schools to cover the high costs of their requirements. Opponents also argue that education is only one factor in urban family flight, and due to the small population served by this proposed charter school, would not make a significant impact in stemming the trend.

My purpose in writing this post is to provide an overview of the current conversation in the hopes that readers will be able to draw their own conclusions and participate in finding a solution to the issues raised. The Board of Education will be meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, May 8th at 7pm at 1115 Clinton Street in the board meeting room. Feel free to comment on this post and share your views, but I encourage you instead to attend the meeting and participate in the discussion surrounding DaVinci Charter School.

* On 5/25/12, I received reader email notifying me that the DaVinci Charter School application link is no longer valid. The file that was available 5/7/12 has been removed and replaced with a new version that has three fewer pages than the 5/7/12 document. After running the two documents through comparison software, here are the three pages that were removed from the first document. The section that was removed was “APPENDIX D. LIST OF VOLUNTEERS AND ADVISORS (PARTIAL).”

5/8/12 Update: Here is a social media synopsis of the May 8th, 2012 Hoboken Board of Education meeting, including discussion of the proposed DaVinci Charter School.

5/13/12 Update: I received a copy of the public letter sent by Hoboken Superintendent Mark Toback to New Jersey Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf regarding the impact of the proposed DaVinci Charter School on the Hoboken public schools. You can review the entire document from Superintendent Toback to Commissioner Cerf, dated April 25, 2012.

The letter expresses concerns about the demographics and location of the proposed DaVinci Charter School along with potential financial repercussions for the Hoboken public schools since existing charter schools have more students and higher costs than originally anticipated. There also appear to be legal issues regarding the proposed DaVinci Charter School that could generate substantial expenses for both DaVinci Charter School and the Hoboken public school district.

The charter school debate may be moot since it appears that Hoboken has approximately 100 more charter school seats than are permitted by law. So not only could the application for DaVinci Charter School be denied on that basis alone, but an investigation could result in seats being removed from existing Hoboken charter schools.

5/21/12 Update: Charter school cost analysis by financial expert Scott Siegel shows that charter schools cost local taxpayers more than public schools because of a different funding formula; municipalities pay 90%+ of charter per-student costs versus 60% for public schools. The three existing charter schools will cause a property tax increase as they add on more grades over the next few years; the proposed DaVinci Charter School would add an additional $22 million to the Hoboken education budget. That would generate an additional property tax increase and decrease public school funding; the proportion depends on whether taxpayers approve the annual education budget or not.

Recent press coverage of DaVinci founder Laura Siegel and Board of Education member Irene Sobolov makes it clear there continues to be a deep divide between supporters and detractors of the proposed DaVinci charter school. In the event of a legal battle, those costs would be added onto the budgets for both school districts and exacerbate the funding issue.

5/22/12 Update: Letter from New Jersey Charter Schools Association states that the law limiting charter school enrollment to 25% of a school district has expired. If DaVinci Charter School is approved, charter schools will represent approximately 50% of public school seats in Hoboken.

5/26/12 Update: Since this blog post was first published on 5/7/12, I have received numerous requests from Laura Siegel, the founder of the proposed DaVinci Charter School, to edit or remove portions of the post. I responded to Ms. Siegel today with the following:

Laura,

Thank you for your many emails asking me to remove or modify portions of my blog post titled “Hoboken Charter School Showdown,” dated 5/7/12. I have conferred with members of my professional organizations and we stand by the impartial presentation of facts as it is presented. If new information presents itself from a reliable third party then I have been adding updates to the post to present my readers with the most complete data set possible.

According to the document “New Jersey Department of Education 2011 Charter School Application” located at http://www.state.nj.us/education/archive/chartsch/app/2011/app.pdf,  page 22 states, “The application is a public document and all information can be requested by the public through the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).”

I have filed an OPRA request for the proposed DaVinci Charter School application in its entirety, including all appendices. Once the document is ready, I will post it on the blog post. I cannot judge what is and is not relevant to people making informed decisions about whether to support the DaVinci Charter School.

If the latest information you are asking me to remove was not part of the “APPENDIX D. LIST OF VOLUNTEERS AND ADVISORS” originally filed with the Department of Education on 4/2/12 then I will be happy to remove it. However, if it is part of the original application then I believe such changes will result in an incomplete and seemingly biased presentation of the facts.

Kathy Zucker

6/9/12 Update: I received an electronic copy of the original document “DaVinci Charter School of Hoboken New Jersey Charter School Application” dated April 2, 2012. I saved the document at a lower resolution to decrease the file size, otherwise the file is unchanged from the material I received from the New Jersey Department of Education. You can view the document here.

I have been talking to experts about financial ramifications of new charter schools for Hoboken homeowners. The numbers are unclear because of the changing student population. Hoboken charter schools receive approximately 90% of the annual traditional public school per-student funding. There are additional funds provided to special needs and low-income (a.k.a. high risk) students. If a new charter school removes students who do not receive additional funding then the public school per-student cost goes up as the proportion skews toward special needs/high risk students, which in turn increases the funding received by all Hoboken charter schools. Last year, the Hoboken charter schools received an unexpected 15% increase in funding for this reason.

8/9/12 Updates:

  1. A reader emailed me about a recent television interview with Hoboken Public School superintendent Dr. Mark Toback regarding the financial and segregative impact of the proposed DaVinci Charter School on Hoboken public schools.  You can view it here.
  2. I filed an OPRA request for the New Jersey Department of Education’s addenda dated 7/3/12 requesting additional information from the founders of the proposed DaVinci Charter School. I have combined the two addenda sent by the DOE for ease of use, you can read them here. The DOE questions centered around school operations and founder qualifications. It also required a revised budget since the one submitted in the original application showed a deficit. You can read the response from the DaVinci founders here.

10/1/12 Update: The New Jersey Department of Education released the list of approved charter schools to open in 2013, and DaVinci Charter School was not one of them. Only two of the 31 applicants were approved (6% approval rate) – one is a private school, Philip’s Academy Charter School in Newark, that is being converted into a charter and the other is founded by a group of entrepreneurs. The report goes on to say that in the last two years, the department has opened 18 new charter schools, closed 5 schools for poor academic performance or organizational and fiscal issues, and placed another 13 schools on probation. The complete release is here, media coverage of the two approved schools is here.

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Kathy Zucker

Author: Kathy Zucker

Mom of 3. Accidental entrepreneur. Fencer. New York Life Shorty Award #KeepGoodGoing winner & judge. Helping parents & kids get to work since 2010 as Metro Moms Network CEO.

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28 Comments

  1. I would like to address some of your points:
    “Proponents of the proposed DaVinci Charter School have attested to make the case that by increasing school choice it will encourage families with school-age children to remain in Hoboken. Opponents would point out that a new charter school might not be the optimal solution to the issue of family retention since many existing charter school students do not currently reside in Hoboken.”
    – As of a couple of years ago, the law was changed to require that 90% of charter school students come from the host district (I believe existing charter schools may have been grandfathered in). We would abide by that law. In addition please see notes below:
    “Opponents also argue that education is only one factor in urban family flight, and due to the small population served by this proposed charter school, would not make a significant impact in stemming the trend.”

    This is simply not the case. Our survey data indicate that approximately 80% of families planning to leave Hoboken state that schools are one reason for leaving, and 39% state that it is the ONLY reason they are leaving. Of the 55% of families in our survey who were planning to leave Hoboken, 67% said they would probably or definitely stay if their child got into DaVinci.

    In addition, about 59% of families who had a kindergarten or above children in a district school OR a private school said they were likely to leave Hoboken within five years; only 25% of charter school parents said the same. These figures taken together indicate that charter school enrollment has a very strong effect on keeping families in Hoboken.

    “Another concern voiced by opponents is that charter schools do not adequately meet the needs of special needs students, leaving the public schools to cover the high costs of their requirements. ”

    Charter schools are required by law to provide a free and appropriate education to all students, including special needs students. DaVinci is committed to that task. Indeed, we have two certified and experienced special education teachers on our Founding Team, and our plan for special education has been reviewed not only by them but by parents of students with special needs. We will have a full-time certified special education teacher in year one, and indeed believe that our model — especially the hands-on, project-based approach and the individualized learning plan component — is more well-suited to students with several types of special needs than a traditional curriculum.

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  2. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding charter costs and the educational and segregational issues that affect district schools.
    1- Financially-Charter Funding is not a pass through from the state that follows the child. Charter funding must be taken from the district budget. Take for example, the Davinci proposed budget- it lists revenue from local sources in the amount of 1.4million dollars, state sources 85k and categorical special education (federal) 100k. 1.4million comes from the local taxes. That means there are 3 choices- 1- raise taxes in that amount , 2- make cuts to cover that amount or a combination of both. The problem: there is a 2% cap on spending. This additional cost would excede the cap- which means services from the district must be cut, in addition to a raise in levy. Previous cuts in the district brought the tax levy to the lowest allowable amount for the past two years. Due to a change in funding formula, this year the district is currently only 165k above the lowest allowable local taxes (levy) as such, it can’t cut 1.4= it can only cut 165k from local taxes. So an increase in levy of 1.235mm is the bare minimum the levy will have to be raised, but again, the cap is at 2%..

    2- Educational/segregational issues. k-5 Grade Charter Schools in Hoboken have far fewer special needs and at risk students in their districts than the district school and do not reflect the demographic population of the district school. Costs related to this are also of issue. Special needs and at risk sudents are entitled to adddional funding. This additional entitlement funding is what created higher budgets. With entitlement funding comes a bare minimum local cost to the local levy AKA: lowest allowable levy. So how can a distirct who is spending the lowest legal amount have high per pupil costs? When a district has higher ratio of special needs and at-risk students it gets more entitlement money which has a miminum “local match” levy. More entilement money=higher cost per pupil. The more studnets who are not SN or HR, the lower the enttilements the lower the budget.

    3- Currently there is approximately 600 students who attend charter schools out of roughly 2200. That is a ratio of about 35%. Recently, a new bill was passed by the assembly- part of that bill noted that charter should not have more than 25% of the total Public school population. This district has already surpassed the 25% and Hola has not completed in full enrollment. The addition of another charter would certainly palce the district in the 50% category.
    4- Special need students. The charter schoool will have to hire duplicate postions that the district already offers and could be easily covered with no increase to the tax payer.
    Extraordinary costs for Special needs students are listed on the district budget-but the charter keeps the child on their roll.

    4- Duplication of services. DaVinci’s Charter application indicates a duplication of roughly 1million dollars in duplicate services- heat/ telephone, BA. copy machine rental, administrators, nurses, teachers, desks, etc….These are built in costs that the district already has and can easily accomodate new students. So, it is just for the purpose of??????

    5-The current district schools already offer Foss Science, have balanced literacy , lap top program, muliptle computers in each class,smart boards, multiple normative assemsent tools etc….It is essentially a nearly similar curriculum, so why should the taxpayers pay more than $1 million to duplicate services of admins, cleaning staff, insurance costs,clerks, admin assistants, copiers, books, teachers, social workers, psychologists, nurses,,energy costs, etc…?

    6- Keeping families in Hoboken- providing 130 seats per grade in all charter schools will not keep families in Hoboken-using your theory, it might keep 130 kids in that grade in Hoboken- what about the 500 who didnt “win” the lottery? Also, You noted 39% said they would move because of the schools, the reverse of that statement is that the overwhelming majority (61%) of people move for other reasons- backyards, garages, large homes with lots of storage, land,open space, no parking issues..are just a few that come to mind. Removing desperately needed funds from a district for duplicaton of services and further seperating the community into 2 seperate public schools where half go to a k-5 high risk school and the other half go to a k-5 affluent school becasue 39% of the people you polled said they were leaving because of the schools.

    6-Costs for Hoboken’s Charters are not lower than it’s counterparts. Charter school costs in Hoboken were listed (in 2010) at approximately 15k per pupil and 17.8 per pupil. This far exceeds the State avg costs for non abbot (districts with low percentages of high risk students) k-12 districts. Many, if not most, of which are around 13k. Further, Consider that it costs less to educate students in grades k-5 than middle and high schoolers. That any charter who does not have a high school, has a higher per pupil cost than a ,similar demographic , k-12 district is indicative of the issues of small schools. They have a high overhead for the amount of students. This is equally a problem with small districts.

    Some might feel that the multiple duplication of services, is unnecessarily costing taxpayers millions of dollars, and is money that could have been used to enhance programming, lower the ratio of at risk populations, lower the per pupil costs, turn this district into a blue ribbon school and bring together one district that reflects the one square mile that is Hoboken.

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  3. Per my review of the DaVinci application, the creation of the school (and stated above by Founder Laura Siegel) is premised on DaVinci’s survey results- that 39% of families were planning to leave Hoboken because they did find any of the available schooling options: public, Charter or private acceptable. The premise: DaVinci would keep them here.

    I call this survey methodology highly questionable.

    Of (approx) 2200 kids utilizing existing public/Charter schools, and hundreds more families with children too young for school or planning a family, the data reflects 357 responses- perhaps 10% of families who are currently utilizing Hoboken schools or will be future ‘consumers’.

    So, according to DaVinci’s survey, 4% of this User Group that are leaving Hoboken would stay if it were approved.

    So, who are the 4% that we are keeping by approving DaVinci? What is their socioeconomic composition? If the creation of the school is being pitched based on ‘need’ then WHY isn’t more information about the survey and how data was harvested contained in the application? My understanding is the data was harvested online, which automatically cuts a swath through the socioeconomic spectrum of respondents- those with online access or opportunity. And there’s the rub.

    Questions not asked: what are we doing to the 1600 children currently utilizing the Hoboken public schools by tapping $1,000,000 from the school budget to keep this 4% here?

    I am a public school parent, and am bewildered by the fear and loathing of our public schools. Our teachers are wonderful. Problematic performance data has to do with middle-class FLIGHT from public schools so that a disproportionate number left have the most educational challenges. That does not mean the ‘quality’ of the school suffers. My child is in 4th grade and tested at a 12th grade reading level and her math is off-the-charts. And she’s one of MANY smart, talented kids in our public schools. Her teacher is marvelous, won awards for innovative approaches to Science and Engineering education – honored on the floor of the US House of Representatives.

    So, in my view the 4% ought to reconsider their ultimatum. Because Hoboken is a diverse, wonderful, urbane place to grow up and that is reflected in our public schools.

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  4. Excellent comments, Mary and Nancy…
    For a town of it’s size, Hoboken offers a very large, choice of schools already. I doubt you will find any other town in NJ comparable in geographic size and population, that’s offers this large amount of current school options, specifically for the lower grades. The threat we keep hearing of .. families will leave, is getting a little old. This is a transient town for a variety of reasons. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

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  5. Hi Laura!

    My name is Dena, and I am the moderator of the Hoboken Special Needs Parent Group. I have twin boys who are diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and ADHD. I was hoping that you could answer a few questions for me regarding DaVinci Charter School and special needs children. My boys go to Wallace and I love the school, staff, and programs available to them. They are doing wonderful and progressing at a rate I never thought possible! However, I am sure many parents of special needs children in Hoboken are wondering if DaVinci Charter School would be appropriate for their child, especially those who do not feel the same way I do about Wallace and Hoboken Public Schools in general. Would you please clarify some things for me, AND PLEASE UNDERSTAND I DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS OR HOW THEY ARE RUN. I apologize for my lack of knowledge :)

    1. Would DaVinci Charter School be required to follow a child’s IEP as written by The Child Study Team and required by law? The IEP is a legal document and must be followed by the school. Does the same apply to charter schools or are the laws different with this type of school?

    2. If a child has a personal aide (as each of my children do), as per an IEP, will a charter school be required to provide AND TRAIN one as well?

    3. If a child is receiving speech therapy, occupational therapy and/or physical therapy as per an IEP, will a charter school be required to provide those additional services as well? If so, will the therapists from the Hoboken Public Schools be required to provide services AT DaVinci, and how will that be coordinated? Or will DaVinci hire their own therapists to work with the child?

    4. Will a special needs child have a “child study team” in place at DaVinci?

    5. Will there be any additional supports or accomodations in place for special needs children at DaVinci?

    It was nice to read that DaVinci has staff in place that are experienced with special needs children, but in reality, there is an overwhelming number of factors that would make a special needs child successful in school. These components must compliment each other, and just because one type of great support is in place doesn’t mean the entire program is right for a child.

    This being said, we are all aware that DaVinci may not be appropriate for ALL special neeeds children, depending on the disability and abilities of a particular child. However, if you say that ALL children can attend DaVinci, you must be prepared to have a special needs child enrolled that may require more support than what DaVinci can offer. It would be nice to give parents some clarification before they make a decision about placement in a charter school.

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to answer this. I really do appreciate your help!

    Dena :)

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  6. Dena, thank you for your questions. I am typing this on my phone so will need to be brief– basically the answer to all your questions is YES, DaVinci would provide everything you described (as required by law–and more importantly, as is the right thing to do for the child.). I or another member of our team will provide more details later.

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  7. As a founding member of the DaVinci School, a parent, and a longtime urban, special educator in a charter school, I can address many of the concerns and questions raised here.

    First and foremost, the creation of this school (and any schools in any district) is meant for the students and what is best for them. We feel that giving parents a choice is best for all the kids in Hoboken. No one is suggesting that the current programs in Hoboken’s public schools are less valuable because we are pushing for the creation of DaVinci. We are simply saying that more options give more students the opportunities for educational success.

    Charter school funding is largely misunderstood. We get funding on a per student basis; as do public schools. We actually get roughly half of the per pupil funds from federal, state, and local sources that the public schools receive. We reconciled that long ago, and have to be creative in the ways that we stretch our operating budgets. It is erroneous to suggest charter schools “take” funds from public schools; that is just simply not the truth.

    However, the educational autonomy that a charter school has allows it to try progressive and innovative things, and the idea is to share what works with any school that is open to new ideas. Charter schools were not designed to work in isolation; rather they were created with the idea that if certain practices worked in a small setting, they could (and would) work in larger schools as well. What has happened instead is that charter schools are often unfairly demonized by districts as attracting high achieving kids, being elitist, or underserving kids with special needs. None of this rings true, and I speak from 12 years in the charter school trenches. More school options in an urban envirmonment is a win-win for all kids. That is the bottom line.

    To address Dena’s concerns as a parent with children with special needs: I know the program where your children go, and it is indeed extremely well regarded in the professional circle of special ed teachers and parents in the area. But as Laura mentions, our school is a PUBLIC school, and is required by all laws protecting your kids to provide every service, modification, and accomodation written in every IEP that crosses our enrollment desk. Services required may change and grow as the school does, and we will work our budget to accomodate those students. We will have our own team (part time at first) to evaluate and classify students. Some of that team (including speech, occupational, and physical therapies) may be shared with other schools to streamline resources, but that is common practice, even in public schools. That being said, a fully inclusive school may not always be best for every student with special needs, and the school I work in currenly has not been able to meet the needs of every student (general ed kids, too). No school anywhere can 100% meet the needs of every child, so when we discuss best setting, or in the case of students with special needs, the least restrictive envirmonment, no one school can provide that to every student. It is unrealistic for anyone on either side of this debate to suggest that as the case.

    And this is where the CHOICE comes in. Parents need to find what is best for their particular child. Period. However, we contend that DaVinci will be the best setting for a wide cross section of kids in Hoboken, and we look forward to serving them.

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  8. Hi Dena,
    I am a member of the DaVinci founding team, a certified special education teacher, learning specialist, and longtime advocate for students with special needs.
    Thank you for bringing these important points to this discussion – I’d like to address each of them here:
    1. The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for individual students will absolutely be adhered to – charter schools are as much bound to this as public schools. For current students, the team members from DaVinci (Special Education Supervisor, Social Worker, classroom teacher) will actively participate in the development of the IEP for the next school year and will advocate for the best interest of each student with special needs.
    2. If a personal aide is necessary for the child’s program, per the IEP, DaVinci will fund and staff this position and will provide appropriate training for the aide.
    3. For the allocation and delivery of services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, and physical therapy, DaVinci will most likely contract with a service agency to secure high quality providers. There are agencies in NJ that specialize in contracting these types of services with charter schools. The service providers would work collaboratively with the DaVinci staff. We know that a team approach is best for consistency for students, and the service providers would, in effect, become part of the individual student’s team of providers and teachers.
    4. Yes, every child with special needs (IEP or 504 plan) will have a Child Study Team in place at DaVinci – as in the public school district.
    5. Yes, the philosophy of DaVinci Charter School is to create a curriculum and teaching methodologies that adapt to fit the needs and strengths of every student. Every student, with special needs or not, will have a Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) that details their unique strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and personal characteristics so that instruction can be personalized. Every student at DaVinci will be known and valued, as a person and as a student. Strengths will be highlighted – especially in our students with special needs. Too often, students with special needs are defined by their deficits, viewed solely as what they cannot do. We seek to change that paradigm, and view students with special needs through the lens of strength – what can they do well, what can they offer the school community and the world. We know that every student has strengths, and we will work to foster the strength in each and every student.
    Meeting the needs of every student is a huge challenge, and one that we don’t enter into lightly.
    I hope this answers your questions, and thank you again for bringing these important concerns to the discussion!
    Best,
    Stacy

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  9. Laura,

    Your survey unfortunately does not have a board participate base. The sample is skewed toward one side already.

    I filled out the survey, and I know I was 20 percent that would never move. Living in Hoboken (or some other place close to my job where I can walk to everything) is must as I don’t drive.

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  10. Nancy,

    Thanks for taking the time to review our application. I’m sure we’ll have a longer conversation tonight, but I wanted to address one particular statement — the idea that DaVinci is “premised” on the survey results. No, DaVinci is premised on the idea that a STEM-focused, project-based school is an asset to the children of Hoboken and a valuable choice for our families. The survey data support the idea that there is a demand for such a school, but as you and Journey pointed out, it was not a scientific survey. We did distribute both paper and online versions specifically to address the problem of the digital divide that you mentioned. For example, paper copies were provided to every family with a child enrolled in Early Head Start — although many said they had already filled it out online. But we decided not to request income data because we felt it would be intrusive in a fairly informal survey, so it is true that we do not know the exact breakdown of the population. However, we do think it provides very suggestive data that indicates that a significant percentage of families with young children find the idea of a science-themed, project-based school extremely attractive, potentially attractive enough to affect their decision about where to live.

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  11. Rachel, funds do come from the district BOE budget. If you look at the district website in the budget, there is a line item “transfer of funds to charter schools”. There is already 4 separate “public” school districts in a very small town. Charter schools to not have to put their budgets up for public discussion. The taxpayers cannot vote for anyone on their boards. There is already alot of options for school in town. This proposed school is for K-2. What happens in grade 3. Are the public schools suddenly acceptbale for these parents, or are they going to apply to add additional grades. Therefore requiring more financing the the district BOE’s budget.

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  12. Hi Stacy and Rachel,

    Thank you so much for your thorough responses. I appreciate you both taking the time to answer my questions and concerns.

    Dena

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  13. Thank you, Kathy for posting this topic on your blog.

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  14. Thank you, Laura, for your response.

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  15. Kathy,

    If you are truly interested in an unbiased presentation of the facts, then in your 5/21 update, I think it is very important that you note that the letter from the NJ Charter school said that charter students receive about 70% of per pupil allotment that traditional public schools receive.

    This is an important fact to consider alongside your summary of Scott Siegel’s analysis that says that municipalities pay 90+% of the per student cost versus 60% for traditional public schools. It makes the disparities that he states, much smaller.

    Of course neither group cited sources for their data so we don’t know if any of it is accurate, but if you are being unbiased, you should include both statistics in your summaries.

    And what standard are you using to name Scott Siegel a financial expert? It is not something he claims in his blog profile or in his posts, nor is it a title that is usually automatically granted to someone based on their undergraduate degrees or current job. But by using that title, you are lending his analysis an additional weight that it may not deserve, since he did not include any actual analysis in his post, just the conclusions he drew from it.

    And finally, in his post Scott does not claim that the sensational number of $22 million will be added to the Hoboken education budget as you cite in your summary. What he said was that if you take a projected cost for DaVinci’s students, you would get $22m in costs for DaVinci once they are up to the full grade levels that they plan. Then he says that if you assume that there is no savings in traditional public schools as a result of students transferring to charter schools, then that would be an additional 100% costs to taxpayers. But that is a simplistic assumption as if all the charter schools get to their full planned student levels then the corresponding decrease in the student population at the traditional public schools will force cuts as classes are consolidated and potentially buildings are closed.

    I think you are doing a good service by consolidating varying posts in one location, but if you are going to summarize the posts, please include all the important facts so they can be compared side by side, and please cite the posts accurately. That is the only way that you can claim to be giving a complete and unbiased presentation of the facts.

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  16. Vince, what is your opinion of the proposed Davinci poulation of 80% wealthy students and 20% poverty students?

    That amounts to a class composition of 18 wealty students with 4 students in poverty. Comaparatively, the district would have 4 wealthy students with 18 students in poverty.

    Do you think this segregative effect will enhance the academic performance of the district?

    It seems many would like to put that factor under the carpet, using the “I want a specialized curriculum for my child” as the reasoning for a seperate school. The unfortunate reality is that the district uses the identical curriculum, down to the materials and evaluations and is run by an experienced Superintendent Principals and teachers, so the reasoning doesnt appear to hold water. This ultimately leads to the question, why should taxpayers foot the multi-million dollar bill for a similar curriculum in a different building?

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  17. Why has the Davinci application been removed?

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  18. I would like to know why the DaVinci application that is now published on their website has removed the list of all volunteers that worked to support the outreach to the community. The application as it currently appears on the DaVinci website is NOT the application that was presented to the state, as they claim on the website. The founders have removed from the publics view, public information. WHY?? This is dishonest!!

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  19. Kathy Zucker

    I have received a number of emails asking about the changes made by the founder to the DaVinci Charter School application before release on their website. In addition to the three pages that were removed, there were also changes scattered throughout the document. If any readers are interested in conducting a thorough comparison, the original public document is located at http://kathyzucker.com/Forms/DavinciApplicationOPRA.pdf and the revised document is at http://davincicharter.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/davinci-charter-app-for-upload2.pdf. You can email comparison results to me at zhobokenmom@gmail.com

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  20. I wanted to distinguish what can help a bee in single’s brio so that’s roughly it not who could not accord an true answer.

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  21. I just read the addenda- does not sound good at all.

    Among the pages long issues- evey public school must have an attorney to review policies/advise,Yet Davinci only allocates 3000k for any legal costs. Special education services will be donated by some of the founders? what if tehy move away? have a new baby? and emergency in thefamily? $130 per child for books?
    These costs as well as a great many others are not in-line with reality.
    And, how is it that the Pricipal has already been hired/ appointed-as well as provided a salary of 88k- that principal being non other than Laura Seigel, the applicant.

    How is it that a k-2 child can sit thru 2hours and 15mins of science? How is it that there is enough time in each day to allow for nearly 2 hours of recess/lunch?

    That said, it was a relief to see that Davinci has decided to nix the use of a major nationwide for-profit charter management company to manage it’s school. As noted by the charter committee, Victory education partners did not bid for the position and was not voted for approval by the davinci board.

    Also glad to see that Davinci now udnerstand that they will need a BA and that said BA reports to the board not the principal.

    Just curious- Davinci will be a public school. The district school board members are elected by the entire city residents. How will the davinci board be chosen?

    Below are a few good reads about the effects of losing representation in local schools and the long term effects of of shrinking district school options. The latter is in a district where 80% of the schools are charters. Real interesting read about the side effects none of us probably thought of.

    http://dianeravitch.net/2012/08/19/ms-katie-asks-what-if-charters-served-the-neediest-students/#comment-25453

    http://vimeo.com/47206728

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  22. Hi there to every one, the contents existing at this website
    are really awesome for people experience, well, keep up the good work fellows.

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