PRINCETON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
BOARD OF EDUCATION
PPS Recent Highlights
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we quickly took the measures necessary to allow us to provide a robust education for all students in the classroom and at home. We committed to taking every measure possible to meet the needs of our students while protecting students, faculty, and staff, guided by the best practices outlined by the Princeton Health Department, the State of New Jersey, and the CDC. Thanks to their guidance and our community’s vigilance, we experienced no significant Covid transmission in the schools.
- To improve both remote and in-person learning, we provided each student with a district-owned tablet or laptop computer appropriate to their grade level and pre-loaded with all necessary software, ensuring compatibility across operating systems and programs.
- We partnered with Comcast and T-Mobile to provide approximately 200 Princeton families with unlimited wireless data in their homes for the school year at a discounted rate, a cost that PPS covered through a generous grant from an anonymous donor.
- We implemented a new learning management system, Canvas, which provided a single, easy-to-use virtual platform for student assignments and parent updates.
- We configured our buildings for safety: Desks were spaced six feet apart; classroom capacity was limited to no greater than 50% capacity or 64 square feet per person, whichever was less; and physical barriers, such as plexiglass, were erected in common areas. Visitors and extracurricular activities were not permitted.
- We upgraded ventilation systems to increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible and to significantly increase the level of air filtration.
- We cleaned and disinfected frequently touched surfaces within the school and on school buses at least daily, more frequently when possible.
- We made the subsidized breakfast and lunch program mobile, with buses delivering meals to homes and to various locations through the community for recipients to pick up and partnering with local non-profits to provide family dinners and grocery basics as well.
- We developed schedules to provide synchronous remote instruction and, when conditions permitted, we were able to move smoothly between remote and in-person learning, keeping in close contact with parents about schedule adjustments.
- Our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support remained in place to identify students who needed extra support, including monitoring the effects of pandemic-era learning environments on the pacing of instruction, and adjusting as needed to ensure all students meet required standards. Extra help was provided as required.
Despite the pandemic, we carried on the crucial business of the district:
- We successfully completed the New Jersey Department of Education's evaluation under the program known as QSAC (Quality Single Accountability Continuum). The QSAC process entails a review of every department in a school district, an undertaking that requires months of preparation and work.
- We engaged Dr. Barry J. Galasso as the district’s Interim Superintendent, commencing on July 1, upon Superintendent Steve Cochrane's retirement. We appointed Robert Ginsberg, formerly principal of Johnson Park Elementary, as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction upon the retirement of Anna Gonzalez Kosek.
- The board hired School Exec Connect to assist in the search for a permanent superintendent. They helped facilitate conversations with stakeholders about the qualities we should seek in a district leader, develop a job description, and recruit appropriate candidates. We expect to identify a finalist in the spring of 2021.
- We successfully negotiated new contracts with the three unions representing teachers, administrators, and support staff, achieving terms that the parties agreed are fair and that the district can afford.
We completed work on important infrastructure projects funded through the recent referendum:
- At Princeton Unified Middle School, we renovated the old library to add new flexible classrooms and spaces for collaborative work. We renovated the Health Office to include a rest room that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as a medical room, an exam room and three resting areas. We added a new entrance, including a security vestibule for visitors. We installed 46 high-efficiency classroom HVAC units, plus additional rooftop units, to improve air quality. There is now comprehensive cooling and dehumidification throughout the school which provides better air quality and a more comfortable environment.
- We have added security vestibules at the four elementary schools. Doors and locks were upgraded to further improve security. We upgraded electrical service and installed 24 classroom HVAC units at Littlebrook Elementary and 30 at Community Park, plus additional rooftop units.
- At Princeton High School, work has begun on a renovation and addition that will include four new classrooms as well as an educational commons area, an improved Guidance suite, new space for movement and athletics, and the addition of a grab and go dining facility.
As of January 25, 2021