Board of Education

Club of $200,000-plus earners growing

The number of public school administrators paid $200,000 or more increased nearly eight-fold in the last five years, according to new payroll numbers released by the state Department of Education.

As of October, 91 administrators were in the $200,000 club — all higher than the governor's salary of $175,000. The number is up from 12 five years ago.

Most were school superintendents, assistant superintendents and business administrators, according to an Asbury Park Press review of the five years worth of school salary data from the 2005-06 to 2009-10 school years.

While the number of public school administrators and supervisors has held relatively steady over five years, their salaries have increased 13 percent to $1.1 billion, according to a review of the latest state employment data.

Shocking audit of Hoboken school spending, operations

The Hoboken Board of Education released a scathing audit Tuesday that cited more than two dozen irregularities.

The findings included the misuse of candy-sale funds, incorrect approval of overtime, and the payment of administrators out of funds reserved for instructors.

"It was just shocking," said Board of Education trustee Maureen Sullivan.

The audit, conducted by Fair Lawn-based accounting firm Lerch, Vinci, and Higgins, covers from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.

Somerset man frustrated over 2006 Hoboken meeting. Three agencies decline to investigate after he writes letters

John Paff, a political watchdog from Somerset County, has been fighting for two years to get answers about a meeting that took place in Hoboken in 2006.

CLOSED QUARTERS? According to John Paff, an invitation-only meeting called by Mayor David Roberts in 2006 to discuss the school district was in violation of the Open Public Meetings Act. But there was no governmental body willing to follow through on Paff’s allegation.  

In an area known for its corrupt politicians and - lately - lawsuits over access to public records, governmental openness is very important to taxpayers.

But not all of them have time or money to fight for it.

This is especially true if it's happening in a different town than their own.


The following commentary submitted to Website Contact Form

Name: m.f.k.
Email: Hidden by Request
Subject: Education
Question/Comment: Hi,

I am a bit concerned about the priority of education in the City of Hoboken. Not sure where to address this, but your site came up and decided it was a good place to start. Who is the contact person for such an issue?

As an educator, I know that education is the root of a positive environment and a thriving area.  NJ has and continues to have high standards for education across the board. Why should Hoboken fall through the cracks?

Money might be missing from union treasury

HOBOKEN - The union that represents school cooks, maintenance workers and building engineers are meeting with members tomorrow over concerns that money may have gone missing from the organization's coffers, school officials confirmed yesterday.

School board fights about nepotism policy, salary increases

The Hoboken school board ended its 2007 calendar year with arguments among the same board factions that have defined meetings since back in April, when three newly elected "reform" candidates took their seats shortly after the district received a new superintendent.

Although Tuesday's meeting began with 15 eighth graders from the Brandt and Demarest schools singing Christmas carols, the goodwill quickly evaporated into heated exchanges between school board members and at times the public.

The most controversial issue of the night was the first reading of the state's new nepotism policy for the schools, which the state Department of Education is requiring all 31 Abbott school districts (urban "special needs" districts receiving special state aid) to adopt.

The measure proved controversial because the policy calls for the "prohibiting [of] any relative of a board member or chief school administrator from being employed in an office or position in that school district."

The policy was created with the intent of avoiding "both the reality and appearance of conflict of interest in employment," according to the resolution.

Several board members were offended by the resolution, arguing that the measure could be discriminatory against future district employees who have good qualifications but are related to a board member or administrator.

The measure would not penalize any current employees who are already related to a board member or administrator.

Several school board members reacted passionately to the resolution, with former Board President James Farina, who is also the longtime city clerk, describing the policy as "unconstitutional" and warning of potential litigation against the district as a result.

Three out of four incumbents go down in Hoboken

HOBOKEN — Board of Education President James J. Farina was re-elected tonight, but the other three incumbents were swept out of office.

With 97 percent of ballots counted and not counting absentee or provisional votes, Farina received 1,260 votes. Challengers Carrie Gilliard had 1,074 and Rose Marie Markle had received 943. They will serve three-year terms.

Tricia Snyder was elected to fill a one-year unexpired term.

Must-see minutes.. N.J. superior court judge hears arguments in Hoboken BOE closed meetings case

New Jersey Superior Court Judge John O'Shaughnessy heard arguments this week in a lawsuit concerning tapes of three closed sessions held by the Hoboken Board of Education in 2005.

Hoboken resident Elizabeth Mason filed suit in November of 2006 in order to have the tapes made public under New Jersey's Open Public Records Act, after her written request to see the minutes was denied by the board earlier last year.

According to Steven Kleinman, the Attorney representing the Board of Education on behalf of the firm Scarinci and Hollenbeck, the judge reserved his decision until a later date.

Minutes took months to OK

The Board of Education delayed a decision last week to vote to approve minutes of three closed meetings - from 2005.

The minutes are of two closed executive session meetings held on Aug. 30, 2005, and another one on Sept. 6 of that year.

Board members raised questions about the accuracy of the minutes, particularly after Board Secretary David Anthony said no tape existed for a controversial session in which four members had got up and walked out early - so the minutes were pieced together from the recollections of those who remained.

State report details child education cost

A new state report has laid out in intricate detail how much it should cost to educate a child in New Jersey, from the price of the average teacher to that of textbooks and supplies.

The 98-page report released yesterday is at the center of Gov. Jon Corzine's plan to revamp the state's school funding formula to better match the needs of individual students, as opposed to those of districts as a whole.

Using data from 2004-05, the report set a total base per-pupil amount of $7,367 for K-8 districts and $8,496 in K-12 district.

Ed board member gets ethics reprimand

HOBOKEN - The former president of the city's Board of Education has been reprimanded by the state for voting to promote his brother and for voting for a contract for Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons, whom he serves as an aide.

Carmelo Garcia, who is still on the board, was reprimanded by state Education Commissioner Lucille Davy last week at the recommendation of the state Ethics Commission. It is unclear what, if any, practical consequence the reprimand has.

1 school district per NJ county proposed

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey voters would decide whether the state should create 21 county school districts under a plan considered Wednesday by legislators looking to cut the nation's highest property taxes.

The referendum would ask voters to approve the shift next year, a massive undertaking for a state with 616 school districts spread across 566 municipalities.

If the plan goes through and voters approve, new countywide districts would begin operating on July 1, 2009, and would be led by county school chiefs appointed by the governor.

Who should run the Hoboken schools? Residents meet to discuss process

Hoboken has more than 2,100 children in eight public schools - and now all it needs is a new person to run the district.

Current Superintendent of Schools Patrick Gagliardi is retiring. His contract expires on June 30, 2007. The Board of Education has about nine months to choose a successor.

Board of Education: Baby has no problem eating while mom is meeting

Baby has no problem eating while mom is meeting
09/13/2006 JJ

HOBOKEN — Last night's school board meeting was business as usual, as board member Theresa Minutillo’s breastfeeding went unremarked.

Twice during the meeting, Minutillo held her 3-month-old daughter, Gabriela Italia Gross, under a pink blanket — a discreet cover for the infant to nurse.

Neither her colleagues nor members of the public who commented when the business of the meeting was finished mentioned her breastfeeding.

Minutillo's critic — a poster on's Hoboken forum who identified herself as Monica Cardella — did not make an appearance.

"Quite honestly, I was expecting something to happen, but nothing was mentioned," said Minutillo, who said that her colleagues on the board have been nothing but supportive.

Board secretary David Anthony said that instead of creating dissension within the board, the controversy over Minutillo's breastfeeding has been unifying.

"I think actually it brought the board together as a family," said Anthony, who served on the board for 11 years. "This is one issue we can all agree on."

School board member stays abreast, but at least 1 critic nurses a grudge

HOBOKEN - Once or twice a meeting, school board member Theresa Minutillo discreetly drapes a pink receiving blanket over her shoulder and breast-feeds her 3-month-old daughter, Gabriela Italia Gross.

The infant has been nursed at four board meetings, apparently without objection from board members nor the four or five parents who regularly attend the meetings.

But at least one Hoboken resident says the practice leaves a sour taste in her mouth.

Board of Education: Teacher contract battles continue

With both sides citing tough economic times, many school districts and local unions statewide continue to battle it out at the bargaining table, fighting over salary increases, health care costs and work schedules -- key issues for teachers and taxpayers.

Nearly 115 districts in the state, including about 20 throughout North Jersey, are negotiating contracts as students head back to class this week. Of New Jersey's 593 school districts, 193 required new pacts this fall, according to school officials.

Board of Education: Santana-Alicea fills vacant Board of Ed. seat More criticism about the perceived lack of process

Without any public discussion or the opportunity for members of the public to apply for the position, the Board of Education voted to add Wanda Santana-Alicea to the board on Tuesday night.

Former Board Trustee Santana-Alicea fills the unexpired term of John Raslowsky II, who resigned so he can become a candidate for the next superintendent of schools.

Board of Education: Horrible display by board members

Dear Editor:
On Tuesday, August 8, 2006, I attended the Hoboken Board of Education monthly meeting – as a citizen of the city of Hoboken and a strong advocate for education; I am writing to express my disheartening concerns regarding the behavior exhibited by the Hoboken Board of Education Trustees with the exception of Theresa Minutillo. First, I would like to commend board member Theresa Minutillo for her leadership initiative in advocating for the "Open Process" – it is my observation that all other board members always engage in dialogue about the "Open Process" but does not take advantage of implementing the process when the opportunity is presented to make progressive changes for the betterment of the children.

Board of Education: Steam roll over due process

 Dear Editor:

Last Tuesday's School Board meeting opened with Jack Raslowsky resigning his board seat in the hope of becoming Superintendent of Schools. Then, without allowing any discussion, Board President Jimmy Farina tried to hand-pick a defeated board candidate to fill Raslowsky's seat.

Little public input on school board replacement Santana-Alicea likely to fill vacant seat

Little public input on school board replacement
Santana-Alicea likely to fill vacant seat 

WANTS TO OPEN THE PROCESS – Hoboken Board of Education Trustee Theresa Minutillo thinks the board should collect resumes to find the best candidate to fill a vacant seat.   Even though Board of Education member John Raslowsky II's resignation isn't effective until Aug. 29, the board quickly and without public comment has already picked his replacement.

New Jersey gets ready to examine disputed school funding

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Most of New Jerseyans' sky-high property taxes go to pay for their local schools. The state also helps, sending more than 30 cents of every $1 it spends each year to public schools.

The combination has led to New Jersey having the highest property taxes in the nation, and to increasing scrutiny of how the state pays for education as hefty aid continues to go to city schools compared to those in other districts.

Hoboken Board of Ed is out of control and totally unreasonable

Dear Editor: I just can't rest until I put this news out here. If you're a parent with school age children, you should especially listen up so you can decide if the Hoboken school system is for you.

Restructuring public education

Two school tracks to serve the entire community, says superintendent 

Next school year, for the first time ever, the district will introduce an "academic school" housed in Hoboken High School, which he hopes will eventually house the city's most academically advanced college-bound students.

Problems for school board: Consultant Libera quits

Problems for school board
Consultant Libera quits after saying he couldn't get access
By: Tom Jennemann, Hoboken Reporter  

Former State Commissioner of Education William L. Librera, who was brought into the Hoboken schools as a consultant to help develop a long-term plan for the district, walked away from his $24,000 contract last week.

In a letter to the board, Librera charged that he was not given access to the schools and to the documents needed to complete his study of the district.

Hoboken Board of Education Race April 18, 2006

Results of the Hoboken Board of Education Race:

Completed Precincts: 36 of 36 (100%)
  1. Minutello -  1673 
  2. Romano -    1635
  3. Raia -          1631
  4. Alicea -        1525
  5. Gillard -       1296
  6. Tobias -       1228

School Budget

  Vote Count
Yes 1,105
No 1,101
Total 2,206


The real winner in this election was Administration backed Frank Raia who survived not only the traditional frontal attack from anti-administration foes, but also had to contend with and overcome the

Time is ripe for poorer districts to contribute

David Sciarra (Executive Director of the Education Law Center) is a lefty lawyer whose mission in life is to help urban kids get a decent education.  And he's very good at it. For a decade or so, he's been beating the state over the head in court, forcing Trenton to send a flood of money to the poorest school districts, known as Abbotts.

Sciarra now believes that some of the healthier Abbott districts should lighten the state's load by raising their own property taxes. Hoboken, that yuppie haven, is only the most obvious case.

Explosive news from Hoboken

Our bachelor governor, as you may know, has a pad in Hoboken, the mile- square city on the Hudson that is as close to paradise for young, upwardly mobile people as anywhere on Earth.

Hoboken is also a paradise for politicians. That's why it's classified as one of the state's so-called "Abbott" school districts. The Abbotts are also called the "poor" school districts, despite the fact that these days you have to be rich to move into some of them. A garden-variety millionaire could own a million- dollar rowhouse in Hoboken and a $2 million condo in Long Branch and still have a good chunk of his property-tax bill subsidized by the working people of New Jersey. This is the logic, such as it is, of the state Supreme Court's many decisions in the Abbott vs. Burke education-funding case.

Schools superintendent blasts ex-state education commissioner

Power struggle may stymie Mayor Roberts' proposed 'reform' plan

Mayor Roberts had recently gathered political friends and foes at an invite-only meeting at the Stevens Institute of Technology to discuss how to help Hoboken's steadily improving but long-maligned urban public schools. But Hoboken School Superintendent Patrick Gagliardi, who plans to retire in two years, saw the meeting as "political" and declined to attend. On Monday, he publicly blasted Librera at a Board of Education caucus, calling him a "salesman."

Mayor discusses education initiative at private meeting; former state commissioner to be tapped to analyze district

Roberts' education initiative was launched Tuesday night at an invitation-only event for about 40 community leaders who have a stake in the city's educational system.

The meeting, which was closed to the press, was held at the house of Stevens Institute of Technology's President Harold Raveche. Roberts said that the press was not invited to the meeting so that it would not be politicized. According to Roberts, attendees included almost every Hoboken elected official from the City Council and the Board of Education, district administrations, city educators, and local business and civic leaders.

Even though there was more than a quorum of both the City Council and Board of Education, the city's attorney, Joseph Sherman, said that the meeting did not violate the state's Sunshine Law. Sherman said that the event was "a social gathering" where no action was taken, and the focus of the meeting was to allow people to talk in general terms about "education in Hoboken in the 21st century."

Curko out of 2 jobs on Hoboken board

The battle of the dueling school board secretaries is over and Anthony Curko is down for the count. Curko, a 27-year employee of the district, resigned last week from his position as school board secretary, and said he will retire from his post as business administrator after the school year. Until he retires, Curko will continue to earn $132,297 a year - the same salary he earned when he was both business administrator and board secretary.

School board and Curko reach retirement agreement

Curko set a retirement date. According to an agreement that was struck at a special (and brief) Board of Education meeting Thursday night, Curko will retire as board secretary immediately, and he will stay as business administrator until the end of the school year.

In this experiment, taxpayers get burned

I woke up the other morning and the coffee maker wasn't working right. It was the timer or something. I yelled to my wife. "Hon! We're going to have to move. The coffee maker stopped working. We need a new house."  "Are you nuts?" she replied.  "No, it makes perfect sense. A new coffeemaker would cost $39.95. But for just $300,000 or so we can get a new house."

Ethics charges filed against Hoboken School Board President

Ethics charges allege that Hoboken School Board President Carmelo Garcia lobbied Superintendent of Schools Patrick Gagliardi to hire his brother for a custodial job; that Garcia then voted on his brother's employment; and that Garcia later tried to get a district employee to alter the meeting minutes to say he had abstained.

School Ethics Commission Complaint????

You have the right to complain to the School Ethics Commission if you believe a school official, either a school board member or a school administrator, is engaging in activities that put their personal financial interest ahead of their public responsibilities (N.J.S.A. 18A:12-29; 18A:12-24).  For complete information click on the link The Right to Make an Ethics Complaint

Hoboken Board of Education

While most Hoboken residents settled into and savored the last remaining dog days of summer, Mayor Dave Roberts continued to shakeup the Hoboken political landscape.  At the Tuesday, September 7th Hoboken Board of Education meeting, board membe...

Hoboken Ed chief plans exit; Meeting erupts into uproar

HOBOKEN - Schools Superintendent Patrick Gagliardi is on his way out and taxpayers in the Mile Square City will be footing the hefty buyout, even though the Board of Education opted to renew the administrator's contract a little more than a year ago.

City Budget: OK, let's look at what Roberts has done - and hasn't

In his letter in the Oct. 27 issue, Hoboken's Chief Financial Officer Michael Lenz asks that the we judge the Roberts administration "on what we do". I agree. Let's look at their fiscal record.

Councilman Roberts used to rail against high spending at the Board of Education. Yet in the last election, Mayor Roberts took no position on the budget? How should we view his silence?