Hoboken seeks new $241M high school, but some residents are opposed
The Hoboken School District is asking voters to approve a multimillion-dollar project to build a new high school in the city. But not everyone thinks that it is needed or worth the price.
The school board, superintendent and an architect presented the $241 million plan on Tuesday to bring a new and modern high school to the city. They say that the new school is needed to keep up with a growing population.
The school would be four stories tall, with classrooms, laboratories, a library and a gym. There will also be a parking lot, indoor pool, an ice rink and a rooftop football field and track.
The middle school students would move to the current high school, making room for another elementary school.
According to the administration, the city’s population is up 180% since 1990 and school enrollment has increased with it. There are 154% more pre-K students now than there were 10 years ago. The superintendent says demographic studies show that the trend is continuing.
“Not only did we see enrollment growth over last five or six years, but our projected enrollment growth on the basis of the demographers' calculations showed the high school was continuing to grow,” says Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson.
But many residents in the city say that they do not think that the price tag of the project is worth it. Taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill in the form of a 30-year bond. It would cost residents an average of $500 or more in taxes per year.
At an information session held on Tuesday, those opposed to the project said that there is no guarantee that enrollment will continue to rise. They say that the current high school is not near max capacity yet.
Many say that they are also upset with how quickly the process is being pushed through. They say that they need more information and more time before they can vote.
“It’s nice. It looks great. But again, a quarter of a billion dollars. We have to take our time…and that’s why I would like to look at some of the numbers,” says resident Paul Presinzano.
Another person at the meeting said that the true motivation for the new school “is to attract children of wealthy families that currently go to private schools.”
More public hearings are scheduled for the next few weeks. A special election to vote on the referendum is scheduled for Jan. 24.
If the plan passes, officials could break ground this summer with a tentative opening date of 2025.