Board Highlights 4.24.18
Posted on 04/30/2018

In an effort to keep the PPS 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 the 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.    

The Princeton Public Schools Board of Education met on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.

Cranbury – Princeton Partnership Presentation

  • During a presentation on the Princeton-Cranbury partnership, the district's legal counsel shared that ending a send-receive relationship – even if the contract between the two districts expires – is a complicated legal process that may not be approved by the state even if both districts are in agreement. He explained that if there is a substantial negative impact to the students in either district, the relationship cannot be severed.  
  • The presentation also explained that enrollment at Princeton High School would still be over capacity if the Princeton-Cranbury partnership ended, since the enrollment of Princeton students is increasing rapidly. Ending the relationship would also do nothing to ease the overcrowding at John Witherspoon Middle School or at our elementary schools, and would substantially reduce funds available to operate our schools.
  • Watch the full send-receive presentation and view the presentation slides.

Superintendent's Report: Superintendent Steve Cochrane shared some recent highlights in the district, including a celebration in honor of former Riverside principal Bill Cirullo on April 21,  an event at JW where 72 students, family members, and staff participated in service projects throughout the community, and the annual Princeton Jazz Festival that was held at Princeton High School on April 21 & 22. Supt. Cochrane shared that with the review and final vote of the 2018-2018 budget on the agenda, it is important to keep students in the forefront when considering the budget. He noted that even while the budget for next year is austere, he was proud the district was able to give a slight increase in funding for professional development to ensure the district’s work with equity moves forward, particularly in areas such as culturally responsive teaching.

Budget Presentation: Business Administrator Stephanie Kennedy presented the 2018-2019 budget, saying it is very tight, but balanced. The district gained some unexpected additional funding through state aid that helped balance the budget, but had to make more than $900,000 in cuts. The district was able to make the contractual increases for staff, but there are no new staff positions in the 2018-2019 budget. Watch the full budget presentation and view the user-friendly budget.

Student Representatives’ Report: Student Representatives Amy Wang and Brian Li shared that they surveyed 491 students at PHS about the proposed renovations and expansion to PHS, and the student responses indicated that they most valued fixing HVAC issues, increasing school security, and adding space for collaboration.

Finance Committee:  The Finance Committee reported that it discussed the 2018-2019 budget and some of the financial aspects of the referendum, including ESIP (Energy Savings Improvement Program) projects  that will pay for themselves over 15 years through energy savings. The committee also discussed doing an in-depth school-by-school analysis of expenses and invoices.

Student Achievement Committee:  The Student Achievement Committee shared that they heard an update from the Director of Technology Andrew Levine on the three-year technology plan that is being developed for the district. PHS Principal Gary Snyder and Assistant Principal Jessica Baxter  shared the initial results of Challenge Success survey that PHS students took this year and will be sharing more with the community this summer. Principal Snyder also shared about the new schedule for Princeton High School  that will be implemented next year, based on feedback received from parents, students, and staff. The full schedule will be shared with the community later this spring. The committee also reviewed a draft of a parent survey that will be distributed in May.  

Equity Committee: Members of the committee met with department supervisors to discuss the cost of school trips, and will continue that discussion in an effort to ensure that all students have equal access to opportunities in the district.  

Actions

  • The Board passed the 2018-19 budget. You can watch the budget presentation, view the user-friendly budget, and view the budget presentation slides.
  • The Board ratified the extension of the PRESSA contract through 2020.
  • The Board rescinded the acceptance of Additional Title 3A Immigrant Grant Funds that the State had erroneously awarded to the district.
  • The Board approved three PHS overnight field trips for the Junior State of America Convention in April, the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in May, and the PHS HS Choir Tour to Europe in February 2019. The Student Achievement Committee shared they when they review overnight field trips, they ask for descriptions of how funds will be raised to cover the cost of the trip for those students who aren’t able to pay for the trip themselves.  
  • The Board approved the purchase of Poured-in-Place (PIP) Playground Surfacing Material for $86,970. Riverside, Littlebrook, and Johnson park will have the poured surfaces installed to replace the current woodchip bedding. This project was part of the 2012 referendum, and is the final expenditure from the 2012 referendum.  
  • The Board accepted a $18,275.70 donation from the Littlebrook PTO to purchase iPads and Chromebooks for Littlebrook Elementary School.
  • The Board accepted a donation from the Hamilton YMCA Aquatic Club for one BioOx Clean Air System Unit valued at $4,840.00 to help the pool environment at John Witherspoon Middle School.
  • The Board approved all other agenda items.

Personnel Retirements and Appointments

  • The Board recognized retiring ESL teacher Lois Bach for her 13 years of service with the district, transportation aide Marie Hammond for her 25 years of service with the district, second grade teacher Joanne Ryan for her 28 years of service with the district, and transportation aide Caroline Santoro for her 15 years of service with the district.
  • The Board appointed William Urian, Building Monitor at PHS.

Upcoming Dates   

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

May 3, 9:30 AM: Equity Committee
May 8, 7:30 PM: Board Meeting (Staff Appointments)
May 11, 10:15 AM: Policy Committee
May 11, 11:30 AM: Student Achievement Committee
May 21, 12:30 PM: Facilities Committee
May 22, 10:30 AM: Finance Committee
May 22, 7:30 PM: Board Meeting