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HoLa: We Are Not Pushing out Boys and Girls Club

Charter school’s board president responds to accusations.

HoLa, Hoboken's dual language charter school, has made several changes to the Hoboken Boys and Girls Club building since it moved onto the second floor almost two years ago. The school has cleaned, painted, renovated existing classrooms, divided a large space into new classrooms, and added fire escapes at 123 Jefferson St.

But not everyone in the community is happy about it.

HoLa has been accused of taking over space and time from the Boys and Girls Club that uses the first floor of the building to serve mostly underprivileged children with an afterschool program. The school has also been blamed for an alleged reduction of services at the club.

The school board president said some members of the community are wrongfully blaming HoLa for whatever might be happening at the Boys and Girls Club. 

"What people don’t seem to realize," wrote President of HoLa’s Board of Trustees Jennifer Hindman Sargent in a recent email, “is that we utilize the space during the portion of the day that the building was entirely unused previously because the Boys and Girls Club students attended their own respective schools during the day, and the building was only used for afterschool programming prior to HoLa."

Both Hindman Sargent and the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hudson County Gary Greenberg have said the school and the club have a good, mutually beneficial relationship. And if Greenberg ever asked the school not to use space the club needed, Hindman Sargent said, HoLa would certainly comply.

“It’s not an elitist school like they are trying to make it out to be,” she said. She added that some people have just wanted to discourage HoLa from the start.

HoLa opened its classrooms for kindergarten through second grade in September 2010 with plans to grow by a grade each year until the school reached fifth grade.

This year, HoLa has two new third grade classrooms, and construction is already underway for two new fourth grade classrooms. Hindman Sargent said the challenge now is figuring out where the school will put the fifth grade in 2013.

Multiple parents have said that school representatives told them HoLa will eventually include sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. But the school’s current lease with the club is “for a full-time public elementary charter school serving kindergarten through fifth grade.” Hindman Sargent said that in two years, when it is time to renew HoLa’s charter, the school will apply for the state’s approval to extend through the eighth grade.

Besides regular classes, HoLa offers two different programs after school. Its aftercare program is from 2:30 to 6 p.m. and parents pay up to $325 a month per child, depending on how many days a week the child attends. And its other program, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., offers extra help and enrichment classes, some of which parents have to pay for, Hindman Sargent said.

Two of HoLa’s enrichment classes are held on the first floor (one in the kitchen and the other in the gym) one day a week and overlap with club hours, which begin at 3 p.m. The overlap—as well as the fact that the school has to turn over classrooms to the club when club hours begin—has caused some tension.

One parent who has had a child in the club in recent years, but wanted to remain anonymous, said that the transition is awkward for club staff. For their afterschool activities, club kids used to be separated into groups by age, she said, but now they are all crammed into a single classroom. “They are losing space and being pushed aside,” said the parent, who said she is close to staffers at the club.

Hindman Sargent said HoLa turns over five of the six original classrooms to the Boys and Girls Club at the end of each school day. And so, she added, HoLa uses two of the new classrooms the school planned for and one of the old rooms. “It’s not like we are usurping space,” said Hindman Sargent.

She added that the club kids have priority in the entire building from 3:30 p.m. until the evening.

There is limited space at the Boys and Girls Club and in Hoboken in general, Hindman Sargent said, "the ideal scenario is to have your own building." She said that while the board was planning the school, one of its members suggested that the school just ask the Boys and Girls Club to share its space, and the club agreed.

“The building was literally empty until 3 p.m.,” said Hindman Sargent. “It was just so underutilized.”

A charter school must apply to the state for approval, and applications must include a plan for location. HoLa’s charter application states that it plans to be located at the Boys and Girls Club for a minimum of two years, not a maximum. The school’s lease with the club allows the school to renew the lease “for 10 one-year extension periods through June 30, 2022.”

Hindman Sargent said that last year, the school paid $48,000 in rent and $12,000 in utilities and more than $100,000 for improvements, which included creating two new classrooms, recombining two classrooms that had been divided, pulling up industrial carpeting, and making repairs. She added that donations paid for a lot of the cost. HoLa was also required by the state to adapt the facility to code and had to spend about $36,000 for the installation of two new fire escapes, Hindman Sargent said.

Hindman Sargent said this year, HoLa will pay $180,000 in rent and utilities and that as more space is created, the school will pay proportionally higher rent to the Boys and Girls Club.

Greenberg has said that HoLa has helped the Hoboken branch of the Boys and Girls Club balance its budget. So, the club needed the income and the school needed the space. But what really matters, said Hindman Sargent, is the children.

"Everyone is trying to do their best to serve them all with very limited resources in terms of both space and funding," Hindman Sargent wrote. "Pitting them against each other is a false dichotomy and is not in anyone’s best interest."

Hindman Sargent added some of HoLa’s students stay afterschool for the extra help or aftercare program, some go downstairs to join the Boys and Girls Club, and some go home. HoLa students, she said, are no different from any other students in Hoboken.

CuriousGal February 14, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Mr. Greenberg is on record that the snacks mentioned in the article are not typical.
Grafix Avenger February 14, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Dim Kim, the issue is not money nor manpower. Hot meals have been provided for YEARS- it was never a problem until Director 'Krispy Treat' Greenberg came on board. And he said on these pages that it wasn't funding it was "inefficient". Are you some kind of attention-ho? Must you glom onto every discussion? How about feeding your RAT some cheese? Why did he diss Belfiore like that? Sending his private email to AL Sullivan? Shameful. Well, you know what they say: there's no honor among camera-thieves. R-A-T. http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2012/02/rat-in-house.html
CuriousGal February 14, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Sounds more like an excuse than a reason. The use of the kitchen is on a very limited basis as you know. Again, the charter school is no more or less responsible for what the Boys and Girls Club members eat for snacks than is Zogg sports, the AA group, or the synagogue (other renters of the space according to the story).
Redrider765 February 14, 2012 at 07:07 PM
Not an excuse at all especially when you consider it was never a problem until HOLA effectively evicted the B&G club from parts of the building upon their misappropriation of the facility.
Redrider765 February 14, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Well, Kim and her poofy haired husband are kind of in trouble w/ people like Pupie b/c of that leak so my guess is she is trying to make things up to Pupie & company.
Scott M. Siegel February 14, 2012 at 07:23 PM
How about the B&G club putting their budget and audit online? The city should demand it.
friendly fire February 14, 2012 at 07:23 PM
GA, why are you investing so much into a story about food at the B&G's club that sources "a parent that wishes to remain anonymous"? That's certainly not how you value stories on your own blog, why the sudden change?
demosthenes February 14, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Curiousgirl - I agree with you 100% that HOLA is not to blame for the curious reduction in services to B&G club corresponding with an increase in income. I think the problem people are having is not with HOLA but with this odd and troubling inverse relationship of income to programming. Perhaps you can shed some light on what that additional revenue is being used for.
Redrider765 February 14, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Do you even read her blog? She has plenty of anonymous sources who send her stuff.
friendly fire February 14, 2012 at 07:37 PM
So does Perry Klaussen you schmuck
Redrider765 February 14, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Pardon me for not really caring what someone too intellectually challenged to figure out how to hit a reply button thinks.
friendly fire February 14, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Good one!
pied piper February 14, 2012 at 07:58 PM
cg,Don't try to spin this- Apparently, you like the direction greenburg is taking- cg said: "The B&GC has become a vibrant community center under his leadership ... The B&GC under Mr. Greenberg's direction is experiencing a rebirth in terms of its service and role for the Hoboken community" Hola's kids have someone watching out for them, where are the people who are supposed to be watching out for the boys and girls club kids?
pied piper February 14, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Agreed!
pied piper February 14, 2012 at 08:04 PM
The city donates the building to the boys and girls club for $2. Why doesn't Greenburg continue to feed the kids hot meals? WHy did he get an infusion of money only to cut programs, give away space, shorten staff and displace oys and girls club kids? Why were 40-60 kids displaced from this building so that 2 classrooms could be made from the dance studio? Is the space donated for the kids of the boys and girls club or for any leasee who would like to sublet?? Priorities.
Grafix Avenger February 14, 2012 at 08:34 PM
What are you talking about? I've been writing about this since August. My sources (plural) are inside the B&G, not parents. http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2011/08/two-cities.html
Grafix Avenger February 14, 2012 at 08:36 PM
What happened to Curious Gal? I wanted to let her know the RAT's been caught! ;-) http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2012/02/ga-catches-rat.html
red's blowup doll February 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Tonight's a very special night for Red and I, I'm hoping he will take a break from commenting and spend some quality time here in our rental. I hope everyone has a nice Valentine's day, and I'll be back tomorrow to let you know how tonight goes!!
QJ201 February 15, 2012 at 12:59 PM
I hope no taxpayer money is being used to fund (staff, supplies, etc.) those "extra charge" programs at a publicly funded charter school.
Scott M. Siegel February 15, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Charter schools are public schools and therefore the cost is borne by NJ taxpayers. Approximately 25% of the Hoboken BOE budget goes to charter schools.
Karen O'Shea February 15, 2012 at 06:07 PM
HOLA everyone. I am of the opinion that Hola charter belongs in another space perhaps in the Hoboken Business Center that Dell Aquila owns on newark and Observer or the YMCA Either way, give the Boys and Girls back their club.
CuriousGal February 15, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Any possibility of making it 100% of the Hoboken BOE budget Scotty? Then maybe I'll feel comfortable sending my children to the Hoboken "public" schools.
CuriousGal February 15, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Read the article-- the B&GC was UNDERutilized before 3pm.
Joan T February 24, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I am a huge supporter of Boys and Girls club and any outreach program to help communities children. That said, i wonder as parents of the community - charter or otherwise, how we have schools scrambling for space for required education/schools and an after school program gets space for $2. Again, the idea that we provide space to this program is wonderful. But what about the children who have schools without a home. Is afterschool program funding more important that a space to go to school? Also as i see the bus from jersey city come in. I wonder, what is the jersey city b&g club used for? We have jubilee and multiservice center, do we have enough space to combine childrens afterschool programs more effectively for hoboken youth and then do the same for schools, evaluate number of children all current space being used for school and ensure we maximize and fairly use all the space in our great but limited space of a town? Jersey City kids - there must be space avail for jersey city kids to do programs in their own town. If we had space - sharing facilities is fantastic, but the reality of hoboken is we dont have space and i personally think our space should be used for our kids. and i think we can do this without removing programs but more effectively allocating space and resources and focusing on our own residents first.
Redrider765 February 24, 2012 at 09:11 PM
You going to keep cutting and pasting this post until people respond? Here is the problem w/ the B&G Club facility. We leased the building to the B&G club, not a charter school. Now if the city council & mayor wish to enter into a lease for a charter school to lease some space, I am all for that option being explored, discussed and voted upon. What I am not for is for a few politically connected individuals entering into some sort of sweetheart lease for a charter school on the sly that is possibly in violation of the lease the B&G club has w/ the city that in effect makes the B&G club a second class citizen in a building the city intended to be specifically intended for their use.
Journey February 24, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Are you going to copy, delete the post, paste a new post, over and over again?
gettheledout44 February 24, 2012 at 11:44 PM
you chuckleheads want us to believe that hola is a strip club or opium den that hoodwinked the dolts at the b&g club. it's a school for little kids. a school!!!!!!! Face it, Red, parents don't want to go to the public schools that your kf friends got hold of and continue to run into the ground. they've got ice on the wings and don't have a clue how to respond. ask your pal journey. he's planning on going to the new science charter school those ladies are planning because elysian, hoboken charter and hola have long waiting lists full of hoboken parents who say rah rah kids first and then bolt to the charters from day one or asap.
Sting Ray February 24, 2012 at 11:55 PM
First off, Joan, I’m trying to wrap my head around the claim you are a huge supporter of Boys and Girls club. Schools are scrambling for space. What are they scrambling from? Perhaps they’re scrambling from the type of children who use the Boys and Girls Club? I get it. So, any elitist school by the mere suggestion of its existence should be given priority over after school programs for the underprivileged. Maybe the charters can scramble over to the Jubilee Center for space, too. Taking it one step further, why not boot those children out and place them at the Doggy Day Care. BTW, the Hoboken children were discouraged from attending their Boys & Girls Club because the crafty new management fired their parents or extended family from being counselors or cooks. They then replaced their warm meals with Rice Krispy treats. There’s now a Montessori school installed at the Jersey City Boys and Girls Club, so those children are being booted around, too.
Journey February 25, 2012 at 02:33 AM
A dozen is 12. 12/2=6 Half a dozen = 6.
Journey February 25, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Don't try to misrepresent me. One I'm a woman. Two, I'm curious about the STEM charter school, not because I'm unwilling to send my child to public school, but because I like Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. I support Kids First, my daughter is going to spend 2 years in a Hoboken pre-school. If this school does not open, or my daughter does not make the lottery, she will be going to public school. I'm not fleeing the school, like you tried to put in my mouth. I have no interest in Eysian, Hoboken Charter, or HoLa, because the don't have a curriculum that interests me. Do not use me to make your weak argument.

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