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Monday, March 1, 2010
"Real Results" BoE Release
Here's the official press release from the Real Results slate:
MARKEVITCH TO LEAD SCHOOL BOARD SLATE PROMISING REAL RESULTS
Running under the banner Real Results, a new slate of candidates for the Hoboken school board filed its petitions Monday and launched its campaign for the April 20election. The slate is led by long-time Hoboken activist Elizabeth Markevitch and includes Perry Lin, Kathleen Tucker and John Forsman. Markevitch, Lin and Tucker are running for three-year terms and Forsman is running for a one-year term.
Real Results promises quick and effective action to improve Hoboken's schools and get the system's bloated budget under control. Markevitch, Lin, Tucker and Forsman say Hoboken's traditionally low expectations for its schools must be dramatically raised, so each student has a chance to reach his or her full potential. At the same time, the Real Results team will tackle the school system's enormous amount of waste--money that never reaches a classroom but instead goes to employees with little or nothing to do, outrageous benefits that are far out of line with the real world and even a junket for a board member next month. At nearly $25,000, Hoboken spends the second-highest amount of money per student of any K-12 district in the state (behind Asbury Park), and almost twice the state average.
Markevitch, Lin, Tucker and Forsman all would bring a wealth of business and management experience to a board that's now woefully short of real-world knowhow. Hiring executives, negotiating multi-million-dollar contracts, and supervising top management are what a school board does, and the current board has virtually no one with the skills for these crucial tasks.
All four candidates supported the Kids First slate that last year won control of the board. But as the year wore on, Markevitch, Lin, Tucker and Forsman lost confidence in Kids First as some members lost interest in keeping their campaign promises. For example, Kids First missed countless opportunities to cut costs, they shut the public out of an important meeting in December in an apparent violation of the state Sunshine Law, they failed to move quickly against highly paid administrators who they knew were double-dipping and/or incompetent, and they teamed up with the board's minority faction to ram through the appointment of a new superintendent without giving the public any notice.
Most important, the board has not focused on making any meaningful budget cuts for next year and is not planning any tax cut, despite the huge amount of fat in the school budget. Last year's tax levy--the amount of tax revenue raised from Hoboken property owners--was $36,764,796. The planned tax levy for this year: $36,761,743. That's right--the expected tax levy is only $3,053 less than last year's. Real Results promises to cut more than $3,000 out of a $60 million budget.
With the election approaching, Markevitch, Lin, Tucker and Forsman feared that no reformers would decide to run this year. The Kids First slate is led by two incumbents who haven't stepped up and made the tough decisions that equal reform. So Real Results expects to be the only slate in the race intent on making real changes in the schools and paying real attention to the budget. Markevitch, Lin, Tucker and Forsman expect to have the reform field to themselves in the election while the Kids First slate and other candidates battle for supporters of the status quo and the way things have always been done. Voters deserve a choice and Real Results will give them that choice.
Elizabeth Markevitch has lived in Hoboken for 20 years and has attended school board meetings since 1995. Her daughter attends Elysian Charter School and will go to Hoboken High in September. Liz comes from a family steeped in education--her mother is a retired teacher and her sister is a teacher. She's also a former director of the Boys and Girls Club of Hoboken. A graduate of Bucknell University, Liz is the founder and president of a firm that recruits staff to fill technical jobs and provides career guidance, and has 18 years of business-management experience. "My mission is matching the right people to the right position, something that the school board has often not been good at," she says.
Perry Lin moved to Hoboken in 2004 and purchased his home here in 2005. He's a product of the Millburn public schools and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis. Perry serves as the Northeast regional manager of a publicly traded medical-device company and has 10 years of experience in sales and management jobs in health care and technology. "I so wanted Kids First to work out last year but they really disappointed me," he says. "It's unbelievable that after all their criticism of the budget a year ago, all they did was nip and tuck around the edges. They not only avoided the hard decisions, they avoided many of the easy ones. Their hearts may have been in the right place, but that wasn't good enough. This ticket will show much more backbone."
Kathleen Tucker has been a Hoboken resident since 2004; she and her husband purchased their home here in 2007. She works as a designer for a marketing and media agency in New York, where she focuses on how customers interact with health care industry websites. Kathleen grew up in Chester and still regards her high school history teacher as an important role model. A graduate of the University of Scranton with a degree in international relations and German, she's long had a keen interest in how students learn and what they learn. "I got an excellent education in New Jersey public schools and that's an opportunity every child deserves," she says. "There's so much more we can do to make sure every child here gets that opportunity."
John Forsman has called Hoboken home for five years. He and his wife became homeowners three years ago and plan to raise their family here. John belongs to St. Francis R.C. Church and the Hoboken Rotary Club, and will soon begin serving as club secretary. He's helped organize the Rotary's Spelling Bee for Hoboken fourth-graders and he's also been a Big Brother. A native of Monmouth County and a graduate of St. Joseph's University, John has worked in health care administration and now works for a major financial institution as a financial adviser and health care specialist. He aims to apply this background to the schools' ballooning medical costs. "Our insurance costs are jumping 16-22% in the new budget," he points out. "We're spending $6.6 million on insurance premiums for probably only 500 full-time employees. It's amazing. With some smart adjustments, we could cut that substantially and still provide virtually the same care."
Real Results promises a full-blown campaign that will point out where the schools can do better, suggest innovative solutions, and challenge its opponents to defend their records and provide better answers. Markevitch, Lin, Tucker and Forsman encourage every Hoboken voter who wants real results to support this ticket.