Picking the Best School

by Dalia Tole

School open house season has officially begun, which means many parents are now deciding where to send their children. Here are some questions to ask:

  • How many hours of school is ideal for your child? School day for the Hoboken Public preschool is six hours long (mandated by DoE). However, some private schools typically have a half day program (about 3 hours) for the younger grades.
  • Can you afford private school tuition? Annual tuitions for private schools in Hoboken can be upwards of $7,000-9,000 for half day programs and over $20,000 for full day programs.
  • Is proximity to your home important? For example, if you live downtown and take the PATH to work, but the school is uptown, you may add up to 30 minutes to your commute. The public program cannot guarantee placement in your preferred choice of school.
  • How many hours of after school care do you need? Most schools have an after care program (fees vary), but some only offer it until 6 pm.
  • Do you plan to pack lunch for your child? If your child has food allergies, dietary restrictions or other reasons you want to pack a daily lunch, be aware that some programs provide meals and don’t allow outside foods.
  • Do you have a preference for Montessori, Progressive Education or another special curriculum or philosophy?
  • Do you want the school to run through higher grades (e.g. middle school instead of elementary or preschool)?
  • How involved do you want to be in your child’s school on a daily basis?
  • What is the sibling policy? Many schools offer preferential admission to siblings, as well as tuition discounts.
  • Will your child make the school age cut-off? Some private schools have a September 1 cutoff, others are as late as November 1. Cut off dates may be different for the toddler programs.
  • What role should religion play in your child’s education? Schools such as Hoboken Catholic Academy, Mustard Seed and Kaplan Cooperative have stated mission statements that incorporate religion into their curriculum.
  • Do classrooms have computers?
  • What is the teacher to student ratio?
  • Does the school offer special education or remedial classes for children who need them? Are the classes and restrooms accessible?
  • Where do graduates pursue their higher studies? Acceptance to reputable high schools and colleges often indicate the educational excellence of the previous schools. Stevens Cooperative and Mustard Seed, amongst others, publish a list of schools and colleges their graduates have attended.
  • How long do you plan to live in Hoboken? Private school contracts become binding in the spring, meaning the entire amount becomes due even if you relocate and decide not to attend, with limited exceptions. In addition, various websites, including the U.S. Department of Education have tips on how to choose the right school.