Cordero School Annex

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dear Harsimus Cove Resident:

The Board is writing in regard to a very important issue directly affecting residents in downtown neighborhoods, which will have a profound impact both short and long term on the children of Harsimus Cove.

Cordero School Annex - Background on Issue

As some of you may know, the City has not yet renewed the lease for the Cordero School Annex at 9th and Marin to the Board of Education (BOE). Last year this school housed four (4) classrooms of Pre-Kindergarten children, including a significant number from our neighborhood.

The root of the problem lies in a budget and philosophy dispute between the City and BOE. If this impasse is not resolved, those 3-year olds from Harsimus Cove (and other neighborhoods downtown) will need to be bussed across town, while a perfectly usable school may sit empty.  There also exists a more general concern about the fate of the school building if the Board of Education is not given a long-term lease, especially given the lack of schools downtown.

The frustrating part about this is that solutions exist. Publicly, both the BOE and the City have expressed a desire that the building be used solely as a school. However, while the BOE has made a lease offer on the same classrooms for the upcoming year, the City has both refused the offer and stalled on making any counteroffer. Instead, the City's current position is that the Board of Education "reconsider its offer." The City has also linked the negotiation to a discussion involving a separate school in Ward B, when it seems the two issues could be more productively discussed separately.

The City's position was strongly questioned by the Downtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations (DCNA) members in attendance at the most recent meeting with a representative of the City yesterday, April 3, 2014. There is near universal agreement that the ball is in the City's court.   

Harsimus Cove Association Position:

After listening to both sides’ positions', as outlined in person by President of the Board of Education and the Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, the Board of the Harsimus Cove Association strongly believes that the City should respond to the BEO’s offer with a good faith counteroffer on the property without delay.

Therefore, the HCA Board has resolved to:

  1. Hold the City to its stated position that it is "willing to entertain a long term [to the Board of Education] lease for that building," and demand that the City respond publicly without delay to the BOE's offer with a reasonable counteroffer and that both parties continue to engage in good faith negotiations thereafter.
  2. Ask that any such discussion focus on an arrangement where the for the coming year, the BOE pays only for the four (4) classrooms that it will use at a reasonable price (for those classrooms), but to include in the agreement terms where the BOE takes over full use and payment of the building in phases. This is an arrangement that both the City and the BOE have indicated support for in principle.
  3. Ask that the negotiations regarding Cordero School Annex be approached as a single isolated discussion, and that the issue no longer be conflated with discussions involving schools in other parts of the City.
  4. Request that the City agree to have these discussions with the BOE in a public forum at a fixed date, to ensure that issues are resolved in an open and transparent process before crucial deadlines make the deal impossible, as agreed to in the meeting with the DCNA representatives.

How You Can Act: 

If you agree with our resolution, we strongly urge you to make your opinion known by contacting the following people directly and making your voice heard:

Petition - The Hamilton Park Association and DCNA President has also submitted a petition on the subject,  We encourage you to review it and sign if you agree.

With best regards,

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