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Residents Appeal Hatikvah Decision

Two residents have appealed a July decision that allows the charter school to renovate a warehouse into a new school.

Two East Brunswick residents are appealing a decision to grant the Hatikvah School International Academy Charter School a variance to renovate a warehouse into a school building.

Deborah E. Cornavaca and Christine Rampolla filed an appeal on Aug. 20 that states, among other reasons, the variance should not have been granted because “there was a conflict of interest,” and that “the board did not permit a complete record to be made.”

In July, the Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously approved a variance that will allow Hatikvah to renovate the warehouse into a school, route: {:controller=>"articles", :action=>"show", :id=>"hatikvah-gets-waiver-to-expand"} -->. The building, 7 Lexington Ave., is located in a planned industrial zone and a variance is needed to open a school in the zone. The warehouse is surrounded by similar warehouses, including

Michael Hill Goldstein September 19, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Hi John, A simple Google search of the two women in question shows that they are both leaders of Save Our Schools the anti-charter school organization. Not just residents of the town. Save Our Schools is helped along by the New Jersey State Teachers Union via funding and organizational help. Those are the facts.
Margie September 19, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Well, Mr. Saccenti? Fess up. What are you going to do about it? These women are claiming "conflict of interest!" It's they who have same. Do your job as and print the TRUTH.
Robert Hobbs September 19, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Jean, It is my understanding the law requires the Plaintiff to furnish the minutes. Do you not want the Township to follow the law?
Christine September 19, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Margie, if you or anyone else in town have any questions abut the basis for the appeal, please feel free to contact one of us.
Kevin Wyman September 19, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I found this to be a fair and accurate article..even if Save our Schools were behind this appeal...it seems probable to me that only EB residents can make this appeal and so it was accurately reported... Personally, I'd have to agree that it doesn't look good that the planning board's attorney actually presented Hatikvah's variance request before the planning board....and, of course, it follows that in a utopian democratic world any planning board members associated with the Hebrew Language or who is Pro Charter School should also excuse themselves from this decision...LOL but EB is not Utopia..
Joe R September 19, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Charter schools are a horrible idea. They are privately managed schools that get public funds. They are unaccountable to the local elected school board. The board of directors of the charter schools are unelected and the residents do not get to vote directly on the charter school budgets. The tax payers do not even get a vote on whether a charter school will be dumped into their district or not. The Stanford University study of a few years ago demonstrated that overall and on average, charter schools are no better than public schools and that there are many more failing charter schools than there are good ones. Charter schools do drain funds and resources from the traditional public schools, no matter how the charter schools ideologues like to tap dance around that issue.
Suzanne September 19, 2012 at 11:20 PM
I don't have a problem with charter schools. I just don't understand why my taxes pay for this one and yet I can't find out anything about it. They've gone as far as to design a whole new school building in town and they don't even say anything about it on their website? Its almost like are secret society that doesn't want anyone to know about anything that is going on there. Very sketchy.
GB14 September 19, 2012 at 11:33 PM
Competition is good everywhere...that includes education. I say allow charters, vouchers, etc. and let them all compete. Those that do the best job educating our children will thrive, those that do not will not and should not. The real focus should be, but seldom seems to be, what will give out children the best opportunity to become productive citizens.
Alice September 20, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Soooo, all of us East Brunswick taxpayers are now going to pay rent on a 500,000 sf warehouse to put fewer than 100 students in? Students that will no doubt be driven right past all the Blue Ribbon schools in this town, by the way. And we do not get to have a say. Everybody OK with that?
John Romano September 20, 2012 at 01:17 AM
.....I'm not quite sure that the school will occupy 500,000 SF of the building. If it does, that's one heck of a school, because that's as big as 4 Home Depot's.
Joe R September 20, 2012 at 01:23 AM
There already is competition, private schools and religious schools have been around as long as if not longer than traditional public schools. Should we also set up competition with traditional public police departments and set up charter police departments to break the traditional public police departments' monopoly? The billionaire boys' club behind school privatization, charter schools and school vouchers are out to destroy the traditional public school system, teacher unions and teacher bargaining rights. Most charter schools are non-union, too many of them find ways to get rid of low performing kids or disruptive kids. Most of these charter schools do not have the same percentage of special needs kids and children with learning problems who are more expensive to educate. That is left to the traditional public schools. If a child gets counseled out of a charter school, the school can still keep the tutition after a certain time period. None of the other high performing countries (such as Finland) are doing any of the insane things we are doing. There are no charter schools or school vouchers in those countries. Follow the money (Gates, Broad, Dell, Koch brothers, the Waltons, DeVos, etc.) and you will understand what is going on.......the effort to privatize the schools, dismantle the traditional public schools and to turn teachers into lower paid shorter term employees.
Kelly September 20, 2012 at 02:07 AM
GB14, who is this competition good for? This school has only been open two full years and they're on their third principal. And, how many of the teachers even stick around for more than a year? Look at how few years of teaching experience their average teachers even have.
Ralph Wiggums September 20, 2012 at 02:33 AM
It doesn't really matter if they're anti-charter school advocates or not. If they raise a fair, legal point, it doesn't matter what their motive is. Why are you afraid of them? How many pro-charter, Hatikvah people have come onto these boards and posted sunshine and rainbow reviews of the school? People have a right to do so, and if they're within their legal rights to raise an honest and fair question (which it certainly seems to be a conflict of interest) then so be it. If it's all good and legal, then you have nothing to fear, but it seems like you're a little nervous about what might happen now.
Ralph Wiggums September 20, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Hatikvah is supported by people who want charters and prefer for taxpayers to pay for their kids to have Hebrew lessons instead of paying for their own, private Hebrew lessons. They were approved, and they got their wish. Good for them. So what if they get some nice benefits on the resident's dime? They knew how to work the system and you don't seem to mind all of the people that supported Hatikvah to put it in place. Now all of the sudden you care about the other side fighting it? The door swings both ways between the opposition and supporters and each side has their right.
Ralph Wiggums September 20, 2012 at 02:43 AM
LOL, and what would the TRUTH be? That Hatikvah is supported by some and opposed by some? Not a shocker. The guy is reporting what happened in a legal sense. Sorry it doesn't have the spin on it that you want. If a parent of a Hatikvah student went to the council to protest a legality that supported a Hatikvah stance, what would it matter if they had a dog in the fight? They would have that right just as equally and within the law just as much as these 2 women do. Sorry you are so worried about it.
GB14 September 20, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Let's flip the argument. Let's only have government operated supermarkets, restaurants and every other commercial market arena. It may sound silly, but it's the same silly slippery slope approach as privatizing a police force. If parents aren't happy with their kids' education the school (union, nonunion, whatever) will close as it should. If the school performs (be it public or not) it will grow - as it should. I understand that we have strong public schools here, but how about the child in Camden or Trenton? A charter school there may make all the difference in that kid's life - should I not care about him? You can take the position that he'll be fine in his public school - I'm not buying it.
Dan F September 20, 2012 at 06:59 AM
Regardless of agendas, it's a valid argument that a school doesn't belong on this street. There are no sidewalks and it has considerable truck traffic. It's an industrial zone, plain and simple.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Dan you obviously have never driven by our schools in EB- the new site for Hatikvah is as safer or more safe than most of the EB public schools. Many of which are located on highly trafficked roads and highways. It is a quiet road with little traffic during most of the day. Yes it is located by warehouses and apartment developments but so are many of our schools and daycare facilities in EB. You are jusrt looking for excuses
Dan F September 20, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Michael, I'm not looking for excuses. As Rob stated above, you just have a kneejerk reaction to any opposition. I know the street well, live in the area and a school doesn't belong there.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Dan does a school belong by a garbage dump, in a warehouse facility, by a highway, on a street with numerous accidents? All these are located either next too or by east Brunswick schools and childcare facilities. I have driven by the new Charter School building off cranbury numerous times. it is probably the quietest street in east Brunswick. Little or no traffic circulates there -except for the some of the vending trucks or from the church. Like I said excuses and ridiculous ones at that.
Michael Hill Goldstein September 20, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Dan for example take a look at our town YMCA- is the hatikvah site more dangerous. be honest?
Lori Trachtenberg Ginsberg October 07, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Alice, I'm not sure how old you are or if you presently have children in the school district, but most EB schools have not been Blue Ribbon schools for many a year. The H.S. for example was Blue Ribbon in 1991...over 20 years ago. In 2011, it was ranked 109 out of 381 by schooldigger.com and its ranking fell by 35 schools in just one year from 2010 to 2011. We can't keep living on a long gone legacy...my daughter is in the EB schools and we should work for a better education in our schools!!
Lori Trachtenberg Ginsberg October 07, 2012 at 05:44 AM
It's so funny...this Rob person apparently makes the same uninformed comment on every Hatikvah-related article. It would be hilarious if there weren't other uninformed people out there who probably believe him...Rob, seems to think people send their children to Hatikvah to get out of paying for Hebrew lessons. Sure, everyone knows that Hebrew is the most widely spoken foreign language in the U.S., so if we can get those high-priced and indispensable lessons for free, we'll REALLY have pulled one over on the town and saved a pile of dough!! Rob is either really funny or really uneducated.
Lori Trachtenberg Ginsberg October 07, 2012 at 06:03 AM
Fess up Christine...you're funded by the teacher's union, aren't you? Or is the EB BOE sending funds your way? Everyone has their own agenda and there is no doubt you're getting something out of your involvement with protesting Hatikvah b/c unless you're a lunatic, there is no other explanation for why you would seek to interfere with the education of young children. To sleep at night I'm guessing you've convinced yourself that you're doing something laudable, but all you're doing is justifying and supporting the BOE's refusal to move on and focus on what matters most...educating the children! I have a child in the public school and I resent their response. As a parent what I really want to hear is that I can rest assured knowing the BOE is focusing all its efforts on developing our schools to be the best in the state. The rest is a turf war and nothing else.
Christine October 16, 2012 at 07:59 PM
That is simply not the case, Lori. I want our education options in East Brunswick to be the best they can be for my kids, which I would hope is the same concern for every parent. Caring for our community, including our schools, is a responsibility we all share. I find these false accusations to be unproductive. Nonetheless, I would be willing to have a conversation with you, same as I’ve had and offered to have with other Hatikvah parents who want to know more about the appeal. There is no reason why we can’t treat each other civilly and discuss this like adults, even if we disagree. I think it would set a far better example for our children.
Lori Trachtenberg Ginsberg October 18, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Christine, you're right, I apologize for my tone. To your point that we should all care about our community, I agree. Having seen both schools in action, I can say that while my older daughter has been lucky that almost all of her teachers are skilled educators, there are gaps in her education. The BOE is responsible ultimately for the curriculum and they do not focus sufficiently on critical thinking skills that are essential for success in today's world. This is one of the key gaps being addressed by Hatikvah. The bottom line is, parents are being given an opportunity to select the educational philosophy they think is best for their child. Those who care about our children will support that choice. It may not be right for you, but that doesn't mean it's not right for others. Distracting Hatikvah's leadership from their most important mission, educating children, shows a lack of regard for the children. Likewise, the BOE focus on trying to shut down Hatikvah deprived our public school children of the 100% focus on their education they deserve. You may well think you're doing something helpful, but in reality you are wasting precious resources and hurting children. I know you won't agree, but I hope you'll at least give it some thought. Thank you.
Tacy Flora January 11, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Solution - why not approve McGinnis school. It was a school previously.
Inna March 23, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Please name at least one good privet school that middleclass income family can afford nowadays. Rutgers Prep tuition for next year starts in 25K for K!!! and public education is so behind in providing education for our children... they are all counting the money - no one cares about the kids, nor education, nor tests scores...
Inna March 23, 2013 at 06:17 AM
1000% (yes, 1000%) agree with Lori about "Blue Ribbon" - we moved to EB just for this reason. We are very disappointed with the school system overall. There is nothing besides the tax increase into nowhere every year... 2% for next school year again???
John Romano March 23, 2013 at 11:06 AM
The "Pro-Charter" sector will use their standard argument that charter schools provide "quality education" in needy communities, and give a chance that every child, regardless of race, income, etc., can succeed. First, I can't really classify East Brunswick as a "needy community". Second, in those communities, every child is NOT accounted for in the charter "system" due to the exclusive nature of the school. Limited enrollment, academic or behavioral issues, and maybe even a dress code expense can be a factor that will exclude a student from a charter school. As a private enterprise, a charter school also has direct control over who their student population is. Again, I just can't see the "needy community" argument holding true in EB as a basis to justify ANY charter school. Another concern with this privatization of public education is the very nature of business. A business’s primary goal is to enhance the bottom line. There is something seriously and ethically wrong with a business model that uses children as a product to fill the till. Charter schools are funded, in part, by tax dollars. Based upon enrollment, school taxes are taken from the public schools and given to the charter school. The other funding for the schools comes from private investors. Ultimately, the benefactor in this entire school-for-profit scheme is the investor. They are basically making money on our tax dollars.

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