Archive of Board Meeting Agenda, Minutes and Meeting Highlights


Hoboken Charter School is managed by a Board of Trustees made up of elected parents, educators and community members.  The Board of Trustees meeting dates can be found on our calendar.  Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. with exceptions noted on the school calendar. The meeting location rotates between the 713 Washington Street and 360 First Street facilities as noted in the school calendar. The 4th Wednesday of the month is reserved for committees which may meet at an alternate time and location.  Changes are communicated via announcements in local papers, City Hall, the school website and weekly school community communications.

Meeting Highlights

December 18, 2018 Meeting

Elizabeth Palma, K-8 Principal, presented on the feedback she received via parent share sessions scheduled in the Spring, Summer and Fall of 2018 with HCS K-8 families.  Ms. Palma reached out to all 148 2017-2018 HCS K-8 families, and 77 families (52.4%) scheduled meetings with her to share feedback on their experiences at HCS. She will reach out to new HCS families in the new year.

Some key takeaways were as follows:

What do families think makes HCS special?

  • ∎The teachers
  • ∎Safety
  • ∎Relationships between students across grades
  • ∎Small size
  • ∎Sense of community
  • ∎Service learning
  • ∎Differentiation
  • ∎STEM programming
  • ∎Special education services  
  • ∎Academic support
  • ∎Overall quality of education
  • ∎Project based learning
  • ∎Support for the whole child
  • ∎Citizenship focus
  • ∎Field trips
  • In response to the feedback and in conjunction with observations by administration and staff, the following has been or will be implemented this school year:

    • ∎Revised drop off policy for items left at home  
    • ∎Greater variety in club offerings including new outside providers such as Stevens Math Circles
    • ∎Increased time outside during Extra Innings
    • ∎Use of HCS Google Calendar for communication
    • ∎Revisions to Back to School Night structure to allow for more time with teachers
    • ∎Bios shared introducing all staff with photos
    • ∎Additional anti-bullying/social emotional learning initiatives
    • ∎A PBL period replacing Independent Reading in the middle school
    • ∎More opportunities for students to engage in public speaking as a part of publishing parties
    • ∎Coding in the lower school
    • ∎A revised Spanish curriculum (A new K-4 program will be implemented in January 2019.)
    • ∎Middle school parent teacher conferences to allow for more time with individual teachers
    • ∎Increased use of the HCS library
    • ∎More scaffolding for the middle school transition from 4th to 5th grades  

    Next, Mort Marks, Business Administrator, shared changes to the upper school breakfast program with the goal of increasing student participation.  A discussion ensued around Department of Agriculture requirements around the food programs and options for schools around participation.

    Reports from the Executive Director and Principals were given. (See text of reports in the meeting agenda to the right.)

    Prior to adjourning the meeting, the Board went into closed session for discussions related to finances, governance and legal matters.

    November 20, 2018 Meeting 

    Jackie Mercandetti presented the MTTS (Multi-Tiered System of Supports) program to the Board of Trustees. This system is designed to support struggling students as they are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning. Progress is closely monitored to assess both the learning rate and level of performance of individual students. Educational decisions about the intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction.

    There are three tiers in the model. Tier 1 support starts in the general education classroom with students receiving interventions and targeted attention. Students who demonstrate the need for additional support and meet eligibility criteria would then access help at the Tier 2 level. This is in a pull out, small group format two-three times per week. Programming is offered in both math and reading using evidenced-based programs that directly address skill deficits using a specific scope and sequence that complements the foundational skills required to access the curriculum. Tier 3 support is provided individually and increases in duration and frequency. Students’ progress at all three levels is closely monitored.

    Eligibility for MTSS support is determined through review of assessments including MAP, Fountas and Pinnell reading assessments, Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and PARCC scores.  To support students in targeted instruction, the lower school uses the Orton-Gillingham method for reading and Do The Math program for mathematics. The middle and upper schools use Achieve 3000 and Orton Gillingham for reading support and Math 180 for math support.  The HCS program is funded primarily through the ESEA grant and is in its second year.

    The Board then moved into a discussion regarding the school’s participation in the School Breakfast Program in particular at the upper school. At present, HCS has over 20% of its enrolled students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals with less than 25% participating in the breakfast program.  As a result, the school has been working on a plan to increase participation. The school administered a survey with upper school students to assess how we can most effectively increase student participation.

    Reports from the Executive Director and Principals were given. (See text of reports in the meeting agenda to the right.)

    Prior to adjourning the meeting, the Board went into closed session for discussions related to legal issues.

    October 16, 2018 Meeting 

    Several members of the parent community attended the Board meeting.  One parent asked why the weighted lottery was not on the October board agenda and it was communicated that since it is unlikely that the NJDOE would approve an amendment to the charter in time for the weighted lottery to be carried out successfully in the upcoming lottery, the vote has been postponed to after January to avoid confusion with families applying for the lottery for the 2019-2020 school year. A first read has occurred and the recommendation will be made to the board for a weighted lottery to be implemented in the January 2020 lottery.  Several parents shared their concerns about a weighted lottery.

    An update was provided on the KMS Development community giveback and the Board expressed their gratitude for the advocacy of our school community in the recent weeks and additionally expressed appreciation to City Council, Mayor Bhalla and KMS Development.  The Board is thrilled that HCS will benefit from the giveback and encouraged by the acknowledgement of charter schools as public schools.

    Executive Director Deirdra Grode shared that it has been almost twenty-five years since New Jersey enacted the Charter School Program Act of 1995 and that Governor Murphy has directed the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to assess the state’s approach to charter schools as it relates to those most impacted by the law.  In October, the NJDOE launched a statewide outreach effort to obtain feedback regarding charter-related priorities that are most important to stakeholders throughout New Jersey.  As part of this process, the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, Dr. Lamont Repollet, announced that he will be visiting eleven charter schools throughout New Jersey with HCS selected as one of the schools.  It was shared that on Friday, November 2, 2018, the Commissioner and several NJDOE staff would tour HCS to learn more about the program and to hear from various stakeholders.  Ms. Grode shared that the school would be coordinating the visit with a school tour and stakeholder-engaged focus session to follow.  In addition to the charter school tours, the NJDOE will hold focus sessions throughout the state.  Feedback from these sessions will be recorded, summarized, and analyzed in a report to be issued by NJDOE at the conclusion of outreach.  The Executive Director participated in one session in Newark and will encourage the entire school community to participate in outreach opportunities beyond the November 2nd tour and focus group.

    Reports from the Executive Director and Principals were given. (See text of reports in the meeting agenda to the right.)

    Prior to adjourning the meeting, the Board went into closed session for discussions related to finances, governance and student discipline.

    September 17, 2018 Meeting 

    An HCS parent expressed her concern with having to pay for afterschool clubs and shared that she felt the school was being too restrictive in granting need-based scholarships for participation of clubs and should broaden the criteria to include more ways to qualify for scholarships such as participation in NJ FamilyCares.

    Chris Kunkel, Testing Coordinator, provided a PARCC standardized testing overview of the 2017-2018 school year.  In his presentation, he explained the five levels of scoring and reported on the data by grade level and course.   As a whole, the school scores are up, he shared. He reviewed not just individual class and course score reports but additionally information on performance of cohorts as they progressed over the years.

    Executive Director Deirdra Grode and Upper School Principal Joanna Weintraub shared progress on their strategic planning work.  Data collection that occurred via stakeholder meetings and survey completion this past school year had informed four aspirational focus areas of the strategic plan: Mission, Value Proposition, Community and Communication.

    Regarding the focus area of Mission, student voice and interests are informing the development of more learner-centered experiences and the creation of more independent studies and student schedules at the upper school as we build upon the school’s mission to create global citizens through individual inquiry. The Social Justice Lab has been extended for student participation across grades 9-12. Project Based Learning and Social-Emotional Learning work is foundational to this work; teachers are receiving training and support and these practices are being embedded within the curriculum.

    Supporting the work to differentiate our upper school in the competitive high school market, the focus area of Value Proposition, HCS has been focusing on developing a personalized program informed by student voice which uses service learning and learner-centered practices as strategies to deliver an educational experience unlike any other program in the area.  At the HCS upper school, students are encouraged to: “Bring your passion. Grow. Make a difference.”

    Essential to the focus area of Community is the goal of clarifying the K-12 HCS learning experience, further developing a community identity and establishing a sense of home for our students.  In an effort to do so, HCS has expanded the Student Ambassador Program and established a role for them within the FoHCS and expanded peer mentor programs to develop relationships and increase visibility via class advisors and buddy projects.  Upper school teachers were engaged this summer in a process to develop a Cougar Creed underscoring school core values.

    Under the focus area of Communication, HCS has established the goal to refine messaging to amplify the full HCS experience. Work has begun in showcasing K-8 and 9-12 experiences in both weekly communications. The website is now highlighting social justice experiences in coursework across disciplines and grade levels K-12.

    Exemplar programs around the country that are achieving success around these focus areas are being further explored and we look forward to sharing periodic updates to our work.

    Reports from members of HCS Administration were given.  (See text of reports in the meeting agenda to the right.)

    Board Meeting Agendas & Minutes