Board Highlights 9.04.18
Posted on 09/04/2018

In an effort to keep the Princeton Public Schools community informed about the work of the Board of Education, a summary of every Board meeting is sent out following each meeting. The public is invited to attend Board meetings, held at the Valley Road Administration Building, and we hope these updates are helpful if you are unable to attend.  You can watch the full Board meeting  on the district’s YouTube channel.   (Note: the video may be updated to include portions that did not stream properly during the meeting due to technical difficulties).

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education met on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.  

Board President's Report: Board President Patrick Sullivan commented on new initiatives surrounding the start of school on September 5, including a later start time, reduced homework, equity priorities and emphasized the Board’s focus on the well-being of students. On September 4, the district received notice that the referendum package is still under consideration by NJDOE due to a backlog of submissions. He noted that the referendum ballot question would not be on the Board of Education’s agenda and the referendum would not be on the November ballot as anticipated. Referendum dates are set by the state. Pending approval from the NJDOE, the next target date for an election will be announced. 

He also noted that the district recently received a flawless audit by auditors.

Superintendent's Report: Superintendent Steve Cochrane discussed the hopes and optimism for students at the start of the new school year. He reported on the district’s commitment to equity in hiring a diverse staff and reported the addition of 66 new staff, with 25 or 38% educators of color; 29 new teachers and counselors, with 9 or 31% educators of color. Regarding professional development, a total of 250 teachers participated in 47 different courses this summer, with 41 courses taught by four teachers. He also spoke about expanding physical capacity, that schools are not spaces but are the people in them, and expanding capacity to care, to learn and to lead.


School counselor Kristina Donovan, PhD, supervisor of school counseling services, shared highlights about added programming including: elementary parent chats and chats for new parents and students, an advisory program with every child known; and a focus on 9th graders, who all met with counselors before school began.


In addition, the PTO worked with school counselors on kick off events with families, student led tours, and 1-1 time with school counselors, among other initiatives. She noted that the counseling department aligns with ASCA National Standards and that counseling is an essential part of school achievement and most effective if every student can meet with a counselor. In addition, a mental health committee was formed this year. Help lines are available for students and more efforts are being made to bring counseling services directly to students. Counseling groups representing Asian Americans and Spanish language students have been formed, and shows the district’s commitment to equity work.


The superintendent commented on initiatives including advisory groups at JW and equity teams at every school; more than 50 staff took part in equity training this summer and the training will be ongoing throughout the year, as a fundamental recommendation from the recent equity audit.


During the public comment period, 25 speakers approached the board; the majority spoke about the facilities referendum.



Board Committee Reports: 

Facilities committee: The committee reported that the referendum submission process to NJDOE included 9 applications submitted in April originally and are now under review. The referendum vote will be rescheduled following the NJDOE’s approval.  


Finance committee:  The committee is examining prescription drug and health plans and reviewing short and long term savings to help the operating budget. A proposed bond refinance will save the district $150K a year through 2023.

Personnel committee: The committee reported that a districtwide search is underway for a new Supervisor of Humanities at PHS. The committee reported that after 18 months, the board and the PREA arrived at a formula for compensating staff who perform non-athletic EPES roles in the district.


Policy committee:  The committee reported that it is migrating to one policy manual and will bring it to the board and public.


Student achievement committee: The committee reported that it developed a new list of field trips that will be approved annually, and new common field trips at the elementary level. The group is moving forward with a new website provider, reviewed the school calendar and discussed media and tech in classroom.


Equity committee: The committee discussed the recent survey and noted access to athletic programs and arts as well as the need to gather data from students and parents. The committee also met with Marceline DuBose, an educational equity consultant, who conducted the equity audit and equity training with teachers during the summer.




The Board had a second reading of the following policies and approved all except 1312, which was tabled for further discussion:

1000/1010  Concepts and Roles in Community Relations; Goals and Objectives

1100   Communicating with the Public

1110   Media

1111   District Publications

1120   Board of Education Meetings

1140   Distribution of Materials by Pupils and Staff

1200   Participation by the Public

1220   Ad Hoc Advisory Committees

1230   School-connected Organizations

1250   Visitors

1252   Civility

1312   Community Complaints and Inquiries

1314   Fundraising by Outside Organizations

1315   Distribution of Materials to Pupils and Staff

1322   Contests for Pupils

1410   Local Units

1600   Relations Between Other Entities and the District

1600.1   School/Business Partnerships

7550   Naming of Facilities


Personnel Appointments  


The board approved and welcomed the following new staff members:


Anna Achampong, Grade 2 Teacher at RS; Gianfranco Bonanni, Building Monitor at PHS; Kari Carley, Special Education Assistant at JP; Jennifer DeFilillpi, Grade 5 Teacher at JP; Susan DiDonato, Interim Special Education Supervisor;  Rosemary England, Special Education – Autism at RS; Jessica Englehart, Special Education – Autism at RS; Erin Flaherty, Special Education Assistant at JP; Valerie Francois, Communications Director at Valley Road; Lindsay Garriton, Special Education Teacher at JP; Joy Grumet, Special Education Assistant – Autism at RS; Emily James, Instrumental Music Teacher at JW; Diane Kanellis, Chemistry Teacher at PHS; Christopher Karch, Special Education Assistant at LB; Holly Kenny, Instructional Assistant at CP; Erin Ketterer, Vocal Music Teacher at JP; Ellia Lisbona, Instructional Assistant at LB; Susan Miller, Special Education Assistant at JP; Leslie Moran, Special Education Assistant at JW; Esmeralda Natareno, Special Education Assistant at JW; Manisha Nichani, Instructional Assistant at LB; Logan O’Meara, Special Education Assistant at LB; Irina Orellana, Custodian at PHS; Richard Pinnola, Elementary Strings Teacher at JP; Jennifer Rader, Special Education Assistant at JW; Jeremy Reilly, Autism Teacher at PHS; Marnie Rotter, Special Education Assistant at JW; Sharee Salles, Special Education Assistant, Autism at RS; Remi Schwartz, Special Education Teacher at RS;  Michelle Sherman, Special Education Assistant-Autism at RS; Michelle Stewart, Special Education Assistant- Autism at RS; Lisa Tanikawa-Brown, Grade 5 Teacher at CP; William Tharp, Jr., Special Education Assistant at CP; Alisha Troxel, Speech and Language Specialist at CP; Marvlyn Vincent, Special Education Aide, JW; Daysi Woodfield, Instructional Assistant – Bilingual at CP.


Reassignments included Kristan Gaylon from Assistant Director of Technology and Innovation to Director of Technology and Innovation at PHS; Lydia McDaniel from Special Education Assistant to Preschool Disabilities Teacher at LB; Alicia Mykolajtchuck from DLI Bilingual Instructional Assistant to AIS Bilingual Teacher at CP.





  • The Board approved the sidebar Agreement regarding Non-Athletic EPES Stipends.
  • The Board approved the CJ PRIDE Consortium membership.
  • The Board approved eight overnight fieldtrips for the Speech and Debate team, along with an overnight trip for the Annual Peer Group Leader Retreat to Princeton Blairstown Center, and an overnight fieldtrip the Computer and Robotics Club at Princeton High School.
  • The Board approved the MSAN student conference.
  • The Board approved the purchase of K-1 grade-level reading/story books for all elementary schools from Booksource for a sum not to exceed $10,200.
  • The Board approved the purchase of up to $18,000 of copyrighted material from Amplify in support of the Science ALIVE program, to be used in all elementary schools.
  • The Board approved the purchase of a web-based student subscription for language arts/literacy intervention activities for the Accelerated Intervention Services (AIS) program, from Achieve 3000. The cost will not exceed $26,555 in 2018-2019.
  • The Board adopted the textbook; Algebra & Trigonometry, Grades 10-12.
  • The Board supports the district’s equity initiatives as indicated in a resolution; it will be reviewed for updates.
  • The Board approved the creation of an Autism class at Riverside Elementary School, a Preschool Disability Class at Littlebrook Elementary School, and a Multiple Disability Class at John Witherspoon Middle School, for the 2018-2019 school year. 
  • The Board authorized a donation of a new Exacqvision Server, valued at $2,000, from Mr. Peter Thompson for use in the PPS IT infrastructure. 
  • The Board authorized a donation of $11,000 from the Princeton Education Foundation to partially fund the purchase of furniture for a science lab at Princeton High School. 
  • The Board acknowledged the attendance of staff children who attend Princeton Public Schools, as permitted by Association Agreements.
  • The Board authorized the contract renewal with Nutri-Serve Food Management, Inc. for 2018-19.
  • The Board authorized the refinancing of outstanding bonds issued in the original principal amount of $40,165,000 July 30, 2009.
  • The Board tabled the work of CME Engineering, Camden NJ, as a sub-consultant to Spiezle Architectural Group, to provide preliminary site/civil engineering services for the 5/6 School site.


 All other agenda items passed.



Upcoming Dates



All public meetings are held at the Valley Road Administration Building, unless otherwise noted.


September 14 at 10:15 am: Policy Committee

September 21 at 11:30 am: Student Achievement Committee

September 24 at 8:45 am: Personnel Committee (closed session)

September 24 at 11:00 am: Facilities Committee (closed session)

September 25 at 10:30 am: Finance Committee (closed session)

September 25 at 7:30 pm: Board of Education Meeting

October 4 at 9:30 am: Equity Committee