Posted on March 8, 2006

Pre-School Mixing For Diversity

Bonnie Friedman, Jersey Journal (Jersey City), March 6, 2006

HOBOKEN — The sweeping mansions on Hudson Street and the public housing complex at Jackson Street are only 12 blocks away, but they might as well be worlds apart.

In an effort to bridge the gap between the city’s rich and poor, school board officials are implementing a new registration format to better integrate the city’s three state-funded pre-school programs:Hopes/Headstart, Mile Square, and All Saints.

Starting today, which is registration day for 3-year-olds, the district will no longer place children on a first-come, first-served basis.

Parents still have the option of selecting a preferred location, but there are no guarantees, and Edith Vega, the district’s affirmative action officer, said she will shuffle students among the programs to create a diverse mix based on race, gender and economics.

“I want to make sure that those providers have some type of balance in their makeup,” said Vega, who noticed the problem after compiling statistics from the three programs. “We will try to accommodate (parents’ preferences), but it will primarily be based on a balance of demographics in the schools.”