Soccer Mom: Charter School 101

To charter or not to charter, that is the question. With the lottery results just published, there are a lot of questions about what exactly the deal is with the charter schools, and why one would take that spot over sticking with the district public schools. So, let's break it all down

Charter schools are a hot topic around town. Everyone has a strong feeling about them one way or another. This write-up isn’t to make the case that charters are better or worse than the “public” schools but to inform everyone about the three we currently have. Full disclosure, my oldest son currently attends one of Hoboken's charter schools.

ENROLLMENT: So what is the difference between charter and “public” schools? Charters are schools of choice, meaning that families select to apply/attend them. Registration is January of each year- with applications for the following school year. Proof of residency is required and child must be 5 years old by Sept 30 of the school year you are applying for. Placement is based on a random public lottery. If there are more applicants than spots available, an ongoing waitlist is maintained. Siblings are given priority, as are Hoboken residents.


Charter schools are independently run schools and are not governed by the district Board of Education. They may teach using non-traditional teaching methods, yet are held accountable for academic results. Students must still take all state mandated testing


Charter schools do receive funding directly from the Hoboken school district. Approval of operation and funding is provided granted by the State Commissioner of Education. Some expenses such as facilities are not paid by the state, and therefore additional funds are raised by the charter's Board of Trustees and parent-driven fundraisers.


Hoboken has 3 charters schools, Elysian Charter, Hoboken Charter, & HOLA. Again, admissions are done by lottery for all charter schools, with registration once per year.

ELYSIAN was founded in 1995-1996 by a Hoboken community group called Mile Square Families. Members of the group were primarily Hoboken parents with young children. Elysian runs grades kindergarten through 8th grade, 2 classes per grade, a total of 288 students, with 16 kids in each class. Elysian teaches with principles of cooperative, children-centered, and progressive teaching methods. The school is located at 1460 Garden Street. Tours are by appointment every first and third Wednesday of the month from October-June 9am-10am.

HOBOKEN CHARTER was conceived and developed by a group of Hoboken parents and professional educators and granted Charter in January 1997. The school runs grades kindergarten through 12th grade with 1 class per grade, a total of 286 students, and 22 kids in each class. HCS teachings focus on learner-centered teaching and community service learning. The school is located at 713 Washington Street (lower and middle grades) & 360 First Street (upper grades).

HOLA was founded in 2010 and is a dual-language program. It teaches grades K-8 and implements a weighted lottery system for low-income families. The school teaches a Spanish-immersion program. No previous exposure to Spanish is required. HOLA is located at 123 Jefferson St.


Nathalie is a mom of two boys, 7 and 4 years old, works full-time in the fashion industry and is a Beautycounter consultant. She has been through the process of Hoboken Pre-K, charter lottery, summer camps, and tutors. Nathalie’s love of sports has rubbed off on her boys and you can find her on weekends running from one sporting activity to the other.