Saturday, January 29, 2011

Carmelo Garcia Responds to Hoboken Revolt BOE Questionnaire

Hoboken Revolt has put out a Board of Education Questionnaire for 2010-2011 and BOE Board member Carmelo Garcia is the first to respond. Carmelo will likely head up one of three anticipated slates in the upcoming BOE race. The other two will be likely headed up by Kids First and the other by Maureen Sullivan whose slate last year was Real Results. Here is the intro as well as the questions by Revolt and Carmelo Garcia's answers....

On behalf of the Steering Committee, here is the first of the BOE responses.....

Hoboken Board of Education member Carmelo Garcia responded to Hoboken Revolt’s BOE Questionnaire. On behalf of the Steering Committee, I would like to commend Carmelo for having the courage and integrity to respond and for his willingness to go on record with his policy positions and perception of progress in the District.

Given their involvement with the inner workings of the school administration, school board members should be intimately knowledgeable of how our tax dollars are being spent and how progress is being made toward scholastic and financial goals. They should understand and be aware of the impact of their decisions. We also believe our elected officials should be on top of upcoming state legislation that may impact the District. They should have an opinion on these matters so they are prepared to position Hoboken for any change in state aid or law.

Finally, board members should make every effort to communicate with residents and citizen groups like Revolt. We hear that good things are happening in our schools. Let us know where we are succeeding and where we still need to improve.

Again, I commend Carmelo for having the courage to respond first. The bar has been set. Please write the others on the BOE and encourage them to go on record with their response.

Love Your Town, Stay Involved.

Here are the "others" email addresses: and and;

- Donna Antonucci
Hoboken Revolt Steering Committee
Hoboken Revolt Questionnaire Question and Answers
Hoboken Board of Education
2010 Accomplishments and 2011 Goals

Carmelo Garcia's Response on 1/14/2011

Carmelo Garcia Hoboken BOE member
Revolt Question:

1. What do you feel were the BOEs major accomplishments for 2010? What do you feel your major accomplishments were as a BOE member? What are your major disappointments for the year? What will be your approach in calendar year 2011 to make an impact on these matters?

Carmelo Garcia Response:

1. We had many major accomplishments that included assembling the right professionals like our proficient business administrator Robert Davis who was able to give us an honest analysis and instituted cost savings measures like the buy-back lease program. We hired good leadership in our interim and asst. supt. to steer us in the right course. We had the opportunity to properly forecast to search for ways to reduce per-pupil cost, eliminate non-essential expenditures and right size our human resource allocation such as consolidating the BA/board secretary position which I’ve been an ardent supporter of merging different positions to save and create more efficiency. I always push to apply Jim Collins “Good to Great” methods to ensure the best outcome for our district. We met many of our board goals, especially with the search and selection of a new superintendent of schools to establish stability and carry out a long term plan. Our implementation of the laptop program by utilizing our American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds has been a huge success. We also allocated funds for an increased effort through different training methods and tools in our special needs department. I’ve always been a strong advocate in bringing our students a world class 21st century education that would prepare them to be tomorrow’s leaders. Give them the ability to compete globally by becoming conceptual, creative and collaborative leaders. I’ve urged for more programming, public-private partnerships at the high school level. The transition to AP versus IB and the implementation of a competitive curriculum that would prepare our students for the real world. We’re strengthening our areas of functionality, methods of teaching through more professional development and top notch teacher representation. Finally, a great milestone was the improvement of our AYP scores at Connors school and other areas throughout all our schools, the increased # of students going to college from the high school or to a vocational school and finally our early childhood program’s progress. We’ve updated many policies and passed tougher ones like our new anti-bullying policy.

a. One major disappointment was not being approved to receive the funding for the renovation of Connors school and Hoboken High school as the children of the 4th ward deserve better, a state of the art facility like Calabro where we can supply them with a sustainable school. Secondly, it would be not reducing our spending in professional services, third would be not having a parent’s tool kit along with the inability to get a universal technological vehicle to replace “simple” that would allow parents to track their child’s progress and interact more with teachers via the web.

Revolt Question:

2. What do you expect the cost per pupil to be this year? What do you think the right level of expenditure per student should be in Hoboken? Feel free to qualify your answer between cost per pupil with and without state aid.

Carmelo Garcia Response:

2. I expect our per pupil cost to go down as there are many factors that play into that configuration so we can only work towards reducing it by instituting other cost saving measures. We are a free and reduced lunch community whom the state recognizes as an abbot district so there are many children entitled to an excellent education therefore the cost can vary but it should be below the state average depending on comparable district size. As we expect our state aid to be cut but don’t know the exact number until then we can’t determine where the cost should be.

Revolt Question:

3. What BOE budget areas, if any, do you feel need further examination for cuts? How do you feel about upcoming teacher contract negotiations and raises given the current economic outlook?

Carmelo Garcia Response:

3. Central office is one of your first areas that you look at for instance, do we need an assistant superintendent for a district of our size? Our facilities management cost such as, our utilities. Our insurance plans and professionals. Do we need to create any more new positions considering our present human resource architecture that seems to fit? I believe everyone is feeling the pain and employees are cognizant of the increased health care cost, the innovative ways other employees are giving back to their employer in order to show their appreciation of their work and employment. I’m confident that the negotiations will be civil, mature and understanding to the tough parameters we’re all boxed into especially when we’re constantly keeping an eye on the bottom line to ensure accountability to our taxpayers and students so that every dollar goes back into the classroom.

Revolt Question:

4. The issue of whether the Board and Administration are doing enough to identify and expel unlawfully registered students has been often discussed and debated.

a. What proactive measures has the District undertaken to root out unlawfully registered students?
b. How many students enrolled in the District but who reside elsewhere have been identified and eliminated from our schools in calendar year 2010?
c. How has that impacted the average cost per pupil?
d. Has the District done anything to encourage out-of-town students to register through School Choice? If so please describe those efforts? How successful have those efforts been, i.e. how much money do we now take in through School Choice v. the year before?

Carmelo Garcia Response:

4. To address the issue of unlawfully registered students I have recommended the district to request the leases of residents as a proof of verification. We’ve pushed for the hiring of a truancy officer who tracks down those kinds of offenses. I’ve suggested charging that taxpayer who breaks the law the cost of tuition for the child if caught committing fraud. The administration has enforced the policy by uncovering about 15 students that were not residents but registered in our schools. We’ve used the laptop program as a tool to qualify that child’s residency which was another effective method. The district has promoted our school choice program as it’s required for the district to market that option.

Revolt Question:

5. Governor Corzine instituted the Uniform Shared Services and Consolidation Act in 2007 that encourages the consolidation of school districts to ultimately reduce overhead within 5 years. The legislation calls for a public referendum by 2012 to consolidate districts.

a. What is your position on this legislation? Do you see it proceeding and in what timeframe?
b. Do you see it as positive or negative? Why?

Carmelo Garcia Response:

5. I believe in shared services as it’s critical to the success of all public entities especially when you can develop a consortium or cooperative agreement that employs economies of scale method to reduce your overhead. As a matter of fact I sponsored one of the first resolutions to enter into a cooperative pricing plan and later an agreement with the city to share service for its information technology upon eliminating the position of director of information technology. These kinds of reforms are always positive when there is togetherness and everyone is looking at the bottom line on how our students get educated and how the funding is spent.

Revolt Question:

6. Although Hoboken Revolt's mission centers around tax reduction and responsible fiscal management, we recognize the importance and urgency of educating our children. There have been mixed comments about the scholastic improvement in the District. Please summarize what progress you feel we have made in improving the quality of education for Hoboken children. Where have we digressed, if at all, and what do you think we need to do to get back on track? Please feel free to provide scores over the last 5 years by grade to support your comments.

Carmelo Garcia Response:

6. In closing, in order to truly appreciate the our progress on scholastic improvement you must know the history of our Hoboken’s public school as when I went to them it is like night and day. Today I’m always a proud product of our public, but even more so now because I’ve been a driving force for the change that our children have experienced from receiving SAT-preparatory classes to the adoption of tools of the mind, IB and now AP. I have seen dramatic improvements in student achievement and it’s been all hard work. It’s also just as important to have a pulse on the community needs which is why our public schools are ready to transcend all benchmarks so all families can have their children succeed as all ships will rise when everyone believes, supports and invest in public education. Additionally, we need to nurture sustainable schools, invest in universal methods that program all professionals to teach to the whole child. We need to recognize and value how far we’ve come in order to know where we’re going. We are a diverse community that requires integration, differentiated instruction and care for one another to create a true melting pot of academic excellence.

Sincerely, Carmelo G. Garcia ◦