As more families stay in Hoboken to raise their children, the school system is experiencing massive growth

As young couples continue to choose city life over suburban life, Hoboken’s school system continues to grow.

The district, which currently educates 2,134 students, expects an 18% increase in enrollment next year, its biggest increase in at least five years, according to Board of Education officials.

The reason for the increase in the student population? The little ones, entering the neighborhood in waves from kindergarten. Or rather, it’s their parents, part of a new generation choosing to raise their family in Mile Square City instead of fleeing to the suburbs as soon as their children are of school age.

“Enrollment is increasing due to the development that is happening in Hoboken, coupled with families choosing to stay, raise their families here and enroll their children in public schools in Hoboken,” the Board Chair said. of Education, Sharyn Angley. “The school district is thriving, and the kids and parents are happy.”

Each year, more and more students enter the school system in the early grades. The district is expected to increase by 380 students in the fall, more than the entire enrollment at Thomas G. Connors Elementary School, one of four public elementary schools in Hoboken, Angley said. Three-quarters of these new students will be in kindergarten to grade 5.

Elia and Steve Hennessy with their children, Chase, 2 months, and Andi, 3, outside their Clinton Street home in Hoboken.Reena Rose Sibayan | The Journal of Jersey

Elia Hennessy moved with her husband to Hoboken about six years ago so he could have easy access to Manhattan for a new job. They now live in a three-bedroom apartment on Clinton Street and welcomed their second child two months ago.

Hennessy has always wanted to raise her family in a city, and this year she enrolled her 3-year-old daughter in public preschool for the first time.

“I can bike or walk to work, so I feel like it’s something I could never do if we moved to the suburbs,” Hennessy said.

Young families choosing to stay in Hoboken while raising children has become a trend over the past five years, says Liberty Realty realtor Ilya Rashkovskiy.

The early-career professionals who rented in Hoboken a decade ago have decided to stay, gradually settling in and improving their living spaces, he said.

“Suburban life isn’t for everyone,” Rashkovskiy said. “I think if you’re able to swing it, why not be closer to work and have the ability to take the baby and walk around with it? There are so many moms clubs in Hoboken and all that. They would kind of prefer to be there.

Some young families are also New York transplants who have chosen to ditch their New York ZIP code for more living space while maintaining a short commute, Rashkovskiy added.

Earlier this spring, the state Department of Education estimated the Hoboken School District would gain 296 students. The state has granted the BOE a waiver that allows the district to exceed the annual 2% increase in state property tax.

To respond to student population growth, the BOE has included a 7.95% tax increase in the 2020-2021 school budget. The spending plan, which was approved May 7, totals $83.8 million, an increase of $5.4 million from last year’s spending plan.

The tax hike will yield $3.7 million specifically for new hires, materials and other registration-related adjustments.

With 380 new students, the district has already greatly exceeded the estimated 296 students and expects enrollment to increase nearly 18 percent year over year.

This is the first time in the past five years that K-12 enrollment has increased by more than 200 students in a single year. Last year, the district saw its second largest increase in years when 195 new students entered the district.

“There are no plans to expand the classes,” Angley said. “We are efficient with space and we get by with what we have at the moment.”

For now, the district will move preschool classes to spaces outside of school buildings (they had already begun that effort—one class is being held in a church) and move new K-12 classes in their place. Class sizes are not increasing, which means there will be new hires, Angley said.

As more young families have chosen to stay in Hoboken, the development has met their need for more living space, said Prime Real Estate Group agent Gina Telesco.

There has been a major influx of new residents over the past month as the coronavirus pandemic has left many New Yorkers eager for more space, she said.

“It’s a young couple with a baby,” she said. “That’s every person I’ve spoken to from Manhattan.”

Now there are more buildings with elevators with three- and four-bedroom units because of that demand, she said.

To meet the needs of its growing number of students, the school district is already exploring how to create more space in classrooms, Angley said. Part of next year’s budget will go to architectural costs.

“This trend requires serious long-term planning,” said school board vice-chairman Thomas Kluepfel. “I don’t see the population dropping anytime soon.”

Even if the coronavirus pandemic sparks a new wave of interest in the suburbs as city dwellers seek more space, Hoboken residents are likely to want to stay, Rashkovskiy said.

“I’ve loved her for so long,” he said. “I really think there will be a lot more resilience here from those people who grew up here or always wanted to live here.”

Jeremy S. McLain