HOBOKEN, NJ, September 13, 2012 – Six days after an intense fire swept through Hoboken Charter School’s 713 Washington Street building leaving nearly 200 K-8th grade students displaced, school officials have announced plans to return the kids to classes in interim space on Tuesday, September 18th.
The decision was made during last night’s Board meeting after all 7 members in attendance (1 absent) voted in favor of Executive Director/K-8 Principal Deirdra Grode’s recommendation to temporarily relocate the K-8 program to the former St. Anne’s School building at 255 Congress St. in Jersey City Heights. The vote followed an open forum in which the public had an opportunity to voice their comments, and the unanimous decision to move forward with the recommendation was well received by the nearly 100 parents and teachers who were in attendance.
The vote does not affect Hoboken Charter School’s 9th-12th grade program which continues to operate on its normal schedule at its Demarest School location in Hoboken.
The selection of the St. Anne’s facility, a former Catholic School that closed its doors this year due to declining enrollment, came after an exhaustive search and evaluation process that started almost immediately after the September 6th fire was extinguished and it was determined that the devastating damage would mean a return to the 713 Washington Street building this academic was year was highly unlikely.
“We’ve been working around the clock to locate appropriate space that would enable us to quickly restore operations without compromising the integrity of our educational program and allow us to keep the K-8 students together in a unified environment,” notes Ms. Grode. “We were assisted by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her staff, the Hoboken Board of Education, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, Jersey City Construction Code Official Raymond Meyer, and a number of other agencies and individuals in our quest. We are so thankful for all of their support.”
School officials are still working out a number of details that need to be resolved prior to the resumption of classes on September 18th, including receiving approval from the Department of Education to temporarily relocate the school outside of Hoboken and providing busing for students to the new location, but are confident everything will be in place by Tuesday.
While the task of locating interim space has been resolved, officials are quick to point out that the crisis is far from over.
“We had a devastating fire and are in dire need of supplies, teaching resources, computers, art and music assets, monetary help and so much more,” says Dan Weisz, President of the Hoboken Charter School Board of Trustees. “There’s been a tremendous outpouring of support from the parents and residents and businesses within Hoboken and beyond, and we are grateful for their help. We have a huge mountain to climb to fully restore our operations in the interim space, and have the daunting task of rebuilding our 713 Washington Street building so we can return the K-8 program to its permanent home.”
This isn’t the first time the Hoboken Charter School is fighting for its existence. Just two years ago the school was asked to vacate some of the space it had been leasing since 1998 at Demarest School in Hoboken which needed the additional room. With the future of the program at stake, school officials, board members and others scoured the area for an appropriate facility, eventually working out a deal to first lease and later purchase the 713 Washington Street building for the K-8 program while keeping the 9th-12th grade students in leased space at Demarest. Administrators, teachers, parents, countless volunteers and professionals worked day and night to renovate the building and get it ready for the 2011 school year. A lack of adequate funds meant that only three of the five floors could be restored, forcing the school to operate without such uses as a gym, cafeteria and dedicated library.
“Unfortunately, it’s the nature of being an underfunded school in an urban area devoid of adequate space,” Ms. Grode points out. “We’ve been through so much in such a short period of time, yet we know with the help of others and the unwavering commitment of our staff, teachers and parents, and the incredible resiliency of our students, we’ll continue to persevere.”
Despite the constant hurdles, Hoboken Charter School has maintained a stellar record for delivering a high-quality, service-learning program. The school was named the National Charter School of the Year by The Center for Education Reform, one of only two schools recognized in New Jersey and one of 53 recognized in the nation in 2007. Individual teaching honors include one of ten Teaching Ambassador Fellows to the U.S. Department of Education, Teacher of the Year from NJ SEEDS, Governor’s State Teaching Award, 2008 Outstanding Young Educator Award, awarded by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD); National Teacher of the Year via the Moss Foundation for Children’s Education, Walt Disney HAND Award for Creative Teaching – top 100 teachers in America, and the New Jersey Charter Schools Association Innovator of the Year Award.
The school is also well-known for introducing students to civic outreach, ranging from feeding the homeless to helping to bring clean water to villages in Africa.
School officials will soon be announcing details of its official fundraising event. For information on how to make monetary donations to Hoboken Charter School, visit the school’s website at www.HobokenCS.org. To donate goods and/or services, email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact the Friends of the Hoboken Charter School (Caroline and Scott Halstead). You can also follow the school’s relief effort on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RebuildHobokenCharterSchool and Twitter at http://twitter.com/RebuildHCS
The Friends of Hoboken Charter School, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, raises funds to support the students and activities to benefit the Hoboken Charter Scho