HoLa's 2013 Cost Savings Plan: underpaid teachers, few "classified" students

GA thinks HoLa's families are terrific; it's Board, not so much.  Some HoLa Trustees might even be evil.   One in particular.  Whose name rhymes with Petrosino.

GA's decided not to give that nefarious nitwit and his new online defecation the attention he craves.

Instead, for my own edification (and yours) I will investigate an oft-repeated comment that sounds (to my ears) like this:
"HoLa is Numero Uno and we do it for half-price!"

While GA disputes the above comment, I am  more interested in the "half-price" part, or as the commenter put it:  " it does all this at less than half the cost of traditional Hoboken Public Schools!"

Which is true, by the way.

But why?  Where are does (the District)  spend MORE, where do they (HoLa) spend LESS?

The truth is very hard to get at when HoLa won't post its budgets nor its spending online. The District does.

Sure, one can file an OPRA request.  But isn't there a publicly available apples-to-apples comparison of costs/spending between the Hoboken district and HoLa?


It's called the  "Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending " and its on the NJ Department of Education website.  In fact, there is a "taxpayer's guide" for every district, public and charter, in New Jersey.

So, using the  "Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending "  GA was able to compare, quite easily, cost line items for both districts.  The most "taxpayer's guide"  for "actual" (not proposed) data is 2012-2013.  So, here were the actual per-pupil costs:
2012-13 Actual Costs Amount per Pupil: $22,832 (district)
2012-13 Actual Costs Amount per Pupil: $10,955 (HoLa) 
Why the cost disparity between the 2 districts?

The answer is in the data. 

While there were categories of 'smaller' disparity, such as "extracurricular cost per-pupil" (District: $653, HoLa: 0),  the bulk of the per-pupil cost disparity appeared to come from three areas:

  • % of "classified" students, 
  • support services and 
  • instructional costs.   
Simply put,  District Schools shoulder a disproportionate number and degree of "classified" students and provide many more supplemental ("support") services.  HoLa's "Instructional costs" are much lower, but a major factor appears to be under-paying their teachers.  
Teacher Salary (2012-13): $77,522   (Public)
Teacher Salary (2012-13): $25,000   (HoLa*)
*Note, in 2013 the state Board of Education ruled that Charters can hire 'second career' teachers (they require no license, degree or experience in education) and train them on the job; they simply need to file for a charter license.  
Interestingly, HoLa administrators made almost 4x a teacher's median salary in 2012-2013.
Administrator Salary : $129,196   (Public)
Administrator Salary : $96,454     (HoLa)
The details are below...  and you know that's where the devil hides. 

Cost comparison: Hoboken District and HoLa

1) "Classified" Students:
10/15/12 % of Classified Students to Total Students: 10.6%
10/15/12 % of Classified Students to Total Students: 1.4%
"Classified" students cover the gamut from the mainstreamed (placed in mainstream classrooms), to self-contained classes, to severely disabled and/or requiring to be sent out-of-district.   Hoboken district is responsible for all costs associated with educating classified students. In 2013, NJDOE special education data  reports that the Hoboken district had 260 "classified" students.    A breakdown by placement done by NJDOE Office of Special Education Programs shows that 204 students required placement out of mainstream classrooms. it also shows that
the districts are not "sharing" equal proportions of the most challenged and costly to educate classified students.  Of all the publicly-funded districts, the district that "shared" the least percentage of classified students was HoLa.  

The impact on the District's per-pupil costs of educated this spectrum of classified students cannot be understated. The Hoboken district cannot say "No." 

2) Total Support Services 
Per Pupil Amount (2012-13 actual costs): $5,078 (District)
Per Pupil Amount (2012-13 actual costs): $0  (HoLa)
"Support services" as defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)  are services supplemental to the teaching process that are designed to assess and improve students' well-being.  They include:
  • Attendance, social work, health and guidance services, educational media/school library services 
  • Child study team services.
  • Costs associated with physical and mental health services that are not direct instruction, but are nevertheless provided to students, such as supervision of health services, health appraisal (including screening for vision, communicable diseases, and hearing deficiencies), screening for psychiatric services, periodic health examinations, emergency injury and illness care, dental services, nursing services and communications with parents and medical officials. 
  • Guidance office expenditures for counseling, record maintenance, and placement services.
  •  Costs for the child study team include salaries and benefits for members related to the development and evaluation of student individualized education programs (IEPs).  
In 2013, the district reported a special services expenditure of $5,078, HoLa reported zero.

3)Total Instructional Costs
Per Pupil Amount (2012-13 actual costs): $11,478
Per Pupil Amount (2012-13 actual costs): $6,291*  *HoLa pays teachers 1/3 District salaries
This indicator includes all expenditures associated with direct classroom instruction for both regular and special education pupils educated within the district. It includes
  • salaries and allocated benefits of teachers, substitutes and teachers' aides (other than secretarial and clerical) as well as the additional compensation paid to teachers for services such as hall monitors, detention, and lunchroom aides. 
  • Supplies such as calculators, microscopes, textbooks, tablets, laptops, workbooks, tests, markers, paper, pencils, paints, and other classroom supplies are included.  
  • Filmstrips, periodicals, videos, CDs, and other reference items for specific regular classroom use are also included.   
  • Purchased professional-educational, technical and other services purchased for classroom use, such as amounts paid for occupational, speech, and physical therapy, assembly speakers, and standardized subject exams.   
  • Cost of the rental or lease purchase of equipment for classroom use is included in this indicator as well.  
Beware, when the"devil" cooks this data.  


  1. Are kids getting a solid education at HOLA?

  2. Is the District getting screwed by Hola's boards' shenanigans? Dispute has never been about education.

  3. lets ask the severely and profoundly handicapped kids. Oh wait, they dont serve those kids so those student scores arent part of hola's test scores.
    lets ask how they do with subgroups. Seems only 37% of the hispanic population passes the tests , while the white population has a 70% pass rate. I thought hola was a spanish program, why the differential in scores?
    Seems the white, non-poverty kids are scoring the same as other white non-poverty kids from across the state.
    The poverty data is missing for hola which means there are too few students in poverty to compare. So I guess we can't tell how that demographic is doing.
    School to school comparisons though dont pan out well for Hola as the other similar demographic districts, have far higher ratios of more severely handicapped students and said scores in their schools.
    Great question and Interesting discussion.

  4. 3:49: It's hard to tell. The thing is, HoLa's test scores were pretty rotten in it's first year. Since then they have shot up...and either stayed steady or continued to improve. Now, that's strange to me. I'd expect a certain amount of variance over time, just as a product of different children having different abilities. Yet HoLa's scores only rise. I wonder why that is.

    Also, it does not seem to be good to be Hispanic at HoLa. There's a gap in test scores by race. So maybe the upper SES kids get out of school help, and that's why they do so well? Or maybe there's some other reason. I really don't know.

  5. CuriousGal, most of your teachers are Hispanic. Is it OK to pay your Administrator 4x the salary of your Hispanic teachers?

    1. The average for the admins is 4x. You think the top person only makes that amount? Doubtful.

  6. I am guessing Hola didnt provide accurate data for the teacher salary. I imagine they haven't one teacher making 25k let alone the average for all teachers.

    1. I dont believe it's made up. The low salary would explain the low instructional costs, compared with the district. The median salary for the next year (2013-2014) went up to $26K.

    2. I bet the person running that school takes home quite the paycheck each month. If I taught there, I'd be looking for another job. Pretty obvious who is and is not making the money.

  7. Median salary ? Not avg salary? How many people do they have working there? Every full time employee gets a full pension. There are about 10 admins.

  8. If a child with special needs legitimately won a place at Hola through their lottery, and if Hola is a publicly funded public charter school, how are they legally able to reject the child?

    Why aren't the same or better professional teaching standards applied to these publicly funded public charter schools as are required to teach in district schools?

  9. https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=C211US105D20150211&p=nj+charter+school+law+pout+placement+severly+handicapped+students
    #1 Charter Schools

    Student sent on to Education Services Commission

    Q: A charter school sends a special education student to the county ESC. When the charter school called the district, they indicated that it was okay. How should this student be counted?

    A: The public school district that the child would attend if not attending a charter school counts the student as sent to the county ESC.

    #2 Charter Schools

    Student sent on to Private School for the Disabled

    Q: A charter school child study team has determined that a student should be placed in a private school for students with disabilities. Our district must pay for this. How should this child be counted in the ASSA?

    A: If the child does not attend the private school for students with disabilities on the October count date, the student is reported in the Charter School Enrollment System and therefore will be preloaded into the ASSA on the Charter School column. If the child does attend the private school for students with disabilities on the October count date, the district must count the student as sent on the 'Private Schools for Students with Disabilities" screen (Sent > Misc).

  10. 18A:36A-11 Operation of charter school.

    11. a. A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and the provisions of law and regulation which govern other public schools; except that, upon the request of the board of trustees of a charter school, the commissioner may exempt the school from State regulations concerning public schools,
    b. A charter school shall comply with the provisions of chapter 46 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes concerning the provision of services to handicapped students; except that the fiscal responsibility for any student currently enrolled in or determined to require a private day or residential school shall remain with the district of residence.
    Within 15 days of the signing of the individualized education plan, a charter school shall provide notice to the resident district of any individualized education plan which results in a private day or residential placement.
    18A:36A-7. Student admissions to charter school
    however, a charter school may limit admission to a particular grade level or to areas of concentration of the school, such as mathematics, science, or the arts. A charter school may establish reasonable criteria to evaluate prospective students which shall be outlined in the school's charter.

  11. Petrosino suckled $144,500/year off the taxpayers' teats before Kids First fired him... does HoLa pay him a stipend?

  12. Did HoLa ever hire a media liaison ?
    If so what is the salary and who is she/he related to ?

  13. The business model for the OG used to be spread the wealth thru tons of fluff jobs. Is the new model more about keeping costs low so profits can flow to the connected few? Those stats do make you wonder.

  14. So,according to this post, HoLa pays teachers 1/3 of district salaries and is @ 50% the cost to fully operate? We also know from the NJDOE that Hola was tied for first in state scores while the district was ranked 551 out of 577.

    Given the findings from this post the taxpayers could save $15-20 million a year and have a top ranked school system if the model was incorporated across the district.

    Why should the majority of Hoboken children be denied access to some of the best education in the state simply because their name wasn't picked in a lottery?

    1. Do you mean the model of not educating "classified"/ disabled children and those sent out of district? Special and support services for special ed and special needs kids- 1 in 10 students- is THE major cost impact.

      Do you mean the model of educating 11% FRL (free and reduced lunch), not the district's 68% FRL. The district educates the bulk of kids in poverty.

      Do you mean the model of educating a 29% Hispanic student population, when the district educates a 50% Hispanic population.

      Do you mean the model of educating a 60% white student population vs the 25% white population the District educates?

      Is that what you mean?

    2. I mean being recognized as being an examplary model of dual language education by the NJ Department of Education....twice.

    3. 8:32,

      When you say, as you or someone has several times now, that "We also know from the NJDOE that Hola was tied for first in state scores" what do you mean? Which state scores are you talking about, and for what years and what grades? The DOE dos not rank schools. Sites that do, do not rank HoLa first.

    4. 10:25- the "ranked 1st" came from Hoboken Patch, not the NJDOE. In other words,an unreliable and inacurate source. Patch ranked 25 schools "1st". It was for lower grades on either LA or Math PARCC. The demographic breakdown of PARCC scores tell another story- probably why HoLa keeps their FRL at 11%.

    5. Patch? Wow, okay. Thanks, GA.

  15. I would fully support the Hoboken public school teachers' 6 figure salaries after 9 years, Cadillac health benefits, free tuition for advanced degrees, and incredible pensions but i'd like to also see some first class results for the first class compensation they are receiving--i'm not alone.

    1. Another fatuous comment.

      1 in 10 district students are "classified"- their test scores are INCLUDED in the district scores. The district has come FAR since 2009, our QSACS are excellent, and Instruction and Programming has advanced nearly 40% since the Petrosino era. So, when your "First Class" school opens the door to the less fortunate- special ed/ handicapped, economically disadvantaged, and balances the proportion of whites/Hispanics THEN you can flap your gums.

    2. 9:27 Everytime you delete a post an angel gets its wings.

    3. On the contrary. ALL teachers should get those things.

  16. I did a quick google search on the litigation and found a link to Hola's budget in this court doc. http://www.edlawcenter.org/news/archives/other-issues/hoboken-challenges-impact-of-charter-expansion-on-students.html

  17. After years voter fraud and ballot stuffing allegations Mutzfest eliminated the competition this year. Just say'n.

    1. Two of the BEST mutz makers in Hoboken opted out of the MutzFest "competition" from the get-go. They knew who was going to win, so why put their names out there as losers. Very smart.

    2. In Hoboken even the cheese is political.

  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. So that's your justification for compensating Hola teachers $25,000 salaries. Got it.

    2. Patch's alternative facts are not welcome here.

      As for "stirring the pot", HoLa is behind the frivolous ethics complaint against district board members. THAT is "stirring the pot." The data I've posted comes straight off the NJDOE website- NOT Patch- and in fact was self-reported. HoLa provided the data. Got a problem with transparency? Apparently so because your budgets aren't on your website.

      "Stirring the pot" = transparency

    3. I'd like to see all the contracts too. If they are paying teachers so little, that money has to be spent somewhere else. Makes you wonder where the money is going.

  19. Theres so many etrors with GA's posts about education that one can only think she's trying out material for The Onion

    1. etrot tu, Dr. P?

    2. Please advise re: my etrors- give me the top 5 etrors of the "many etrors".

      Since I source data directly from the NJDOE (not Hoboken Patch) then provide links and publish actual source data (unlike Petrosino who makes pretty graphs), there shouldn't be "many" etrors. But, if I have posted 1 etror, 2 etrors, 3 etrors or more please let me know! Alternative facts not welcome.

    3. 7:12, your claim sounds etroneous.

  20. Ba dum tss

    Stick to being an uptight lying troll. You're no good at being funny.

  21. A school system's largest expense is primarily their employee wages. Hola pays peanuts rent to the B&G Club. Where is their money going? Their funding is almost exclusively from the Hoboken local tax levy. Hmm. Hola's budget needs a little sunshine.

  22. LOL 7:12 p.m., You're frothing. :)


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