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Highlights

PRINCETON PUBLIC SCHOOLS

BOARD OF EDUCATION

2019 HIGHLIGHTS 

STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT

Supported mission-driven District initiatives including expansion of free Pre-K, restorative practices and enrichment

- Supported expansion to 60 spaces of State-funded free Pre-K, including DLI and 3 year olds, and submission of grant for additional 15 spaces in 2020; 

- Created Early Childhood Advisory Committee, a community-wide preschool task force

- Supported district equity initiatives around restorative justice, culturally responsive teaching and implicit bias training;

- Supported curriculum updates and enhancements including:

o   new K-5 math curriculum and expanded JW math pathways, 

o   FOCUS initiative for school-wide enrichment,

o   updated elementary report card format, 

o   new field trip for PHS Racial Literacy class to civil rights landmarks including the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial and Smithsonian Museum of African American History and visits to observe social justice programs at Howard University and American University in Washington, D.C., 

o   2020 program review of DLI and creation of DLI task force,

o   teacher-led social-emotional curriculum for PHS homeroom.

- Continued review of field trip offerings to align with curriculum goals;

- Implemented new extracurricular trip review process;

- Prepared for external review of special education; and

- Renegotiated food service contract with existing provider, with new food service director, and fresh approach to services to improve nutritional content and appeal to students.

EQUITY 

Built community around issues of equity and inclusion in first full year as a standing committee of the BOE

- Held well-attended, monthly evening meetings for listening and engagement, inviting all voices to be heard;

- Gathered diverse perspectives from staff, students, parents and community members on district strategic priorities including student achievement, every child known, etc.; and

- Established quarterly joint meeting with Student Achievement Committee in order to align committee work and focus the BOE’s equity lens.

PERSONNEL

Supported smooth transition/renewal of key district leadership 

- Supported hiring of four senior administrative positions reporting to the Superintendent: Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Princeton High School Principal, Director of Plant and Operations, Business Administrator;

- Supported hiring of JW Student Services Supervisor, Math Business Education Supervisor;

- Supported hiring of new Science Supervisor while reconfiguring administrative structure to eliminate one administrative position;

- Improved the non-tenured review process and internal HR procedures;

- Updated the PPS mentoring program; and

- Supported Human Resources in filling 64 vacancies. 

FINANCE

Strengthened financial position of the district 

- Supported Superintendent in hiring experienced new Business Administrator and in managing transition while addressing structural deficit and commencing referendum projects;

- Made difficult decisions to reduce staff positions to balance the budget and began to address longstanding structural deficit due to combination of (i) a 2% cap on the school tax levy for operating costs and (ii) rising healthcare and other labor costs, charter school expansion and rising enrollment;

- Initiated shared services study with municipality to find efficiencies and cost savings;

Launched PPS Saves initiative for savings ideas from staff and community;

- Supported the new Business Administrator in:

o   Evaluating and reducing recurring expenses,

o   Developing a multi-year financial model,

o   Restoring depleted fund balance and establishing maintenance reserve with unbudgeted extraordinary aid,

o   Initiating cultural change through priority-based budgeting, and 

o   Updating send-receive accounting and billing processes to capture full costs.

- Advanced dialogue with Princeton Charter School to find synergies and cost-savings, consolidating bus routes; and

- Changed insurance brokers in effort to address rising health care costs.

FACILITIES

Completion of initial referendum projects and improved stewardship of District facilities and grounds 

- Supported District in hiring construction management firm to oversee  referendum projects;

Supported Superintendent in hiring experienced new Director of Plant and Operations; 

- Welcomed community input and participation at Facilities Committee meetings;

Successfully completed first two projects of $26.9 million referendum and substantially completed third on very short timeline due to December vote;

- Moving forward with upcoming referendum projects; 

- Initiated development of Preventative Maintenance Programs for all major systems and equipment;

- Tasked new Facilities Director with development of longer-term plan to improve energy efficiency and sustainability of PPS sites;

- Improved safety and security by introducing new visitor management system at all schools to screen and credential all adults not employed with the District;

- Began prioritization of all remaining referendum projects to facilitate data-based decision-making in event of cost escalations; and

- Retained a professional planning firm to validate enrollment growth and capacity data and to engage the community in a comprehensive facilities master planning process.

POLICY

Inclusion of association representatives, collaborative work on policies supporting students, near completion of policy manual conversion 

- Invited three associations to appoint members to the committee;

- Collaboratively wrote and supported community education on new vaping policy;

- Supported district goals and mission through significant changes to policies regarding safety, security and restorative justice;

- Continued updating of policy manual to NJSBA system (80% complete), including review over forty policies; and

- Updated policies as required by three-year QSAC State review process.

ADVOCACY, COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND COLLABORATION 

Strengthened relationships and advocacy through engagement at the local and state level

- Enhanced advocacy, collaboration and communication through meetings with Municipal leadership, members of Council, the Master Planning Subcommittee of the Planning Board, Princeton University, the Princeton Charter School, Sustainable Princeton, the Witherspoon Jackson Neighborhood Association and other community partners;

- Engaged in “myth-busting” by explaining to community that 2% school tax levy cap does not increase as new housing is built and that growth brings increased costs and challenges to the public schools;

- Initiated a shared services study to identify opportunities for savings and more effective service delivery through collaboration with the Municipality;

- Benefitted from advice of citizen experts through establishment of committees studying future enrollment and issues relating to the “school impact” of community growth; 

- Successfully advocated for the inclusion of school impact data in community impact reports made to the Planning Board;

- Encouraged the Planning Board to update the Princeton Master Plan to include appropriate future school sites;

- Advocated for compensation to schools as part of future PILOTs or other financial arrangements with residential developers;

- Advocated with state and local elected officials, directly and through the Garden State Coalition of Schools and New Jersey School Boards Association, to address the fiscal impact of local development decisions on public schools, state-mandated affordable housing requirements and the underfunding of public schools by the State; 

- Advocated with state representatives for full funding of extraordinary State Aid for special education; and 

- Received an unbudgeted, non-recurring reimbursement of $1.7 million in State Aid for extraordinary special education costs as part of a State budget settlement. 

GOVERNANCE AND BOARD EFFECTIVENESS

Improved practices and transparency, aligned District, Superintendent and Board Goals

- Increased transparency through open committee meetings;

- Conducted timely annual Superintendent performance review and Board self-evaluation using standardized NJSBA tools;

Developed annual Board calendar of recurring responsibilities and electronic “Fact Book” of Board resources;

- Learned together as a board through workshops on ethics, communication best practices and equity; 

- Participated individually in NJSBA workshops on leadership, bargaining, communications, committee best practices; Mercer County meetings/training; and Annual Workshop; and

- Joined with administration, teachers and staff in off-site workshops on strategic planning and collaborative problem-solving (Rutgers Labor/Management Collaborative).

 

as of 1/9/20