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The Princeton Board of Education has approved a motion to submit paperwork to the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) seeking approval for a referendum to fund new classrooms and core spaces at Community Park Elementary, Littlebrook Elementary, Princeton Middle School, and Princeton High School. The referendum vote is planned for December 2024 or January 2025, depending upon the timing of NJDOE approvals.


The approximate cost of the proposed new construction and renovations is between $85 to $89.5 million, which does not include potential support from the state. The specific dollar amount and referendum questions for voters to consider will be determined after the NJDOE reviews the application and advises which portion of the costs are eligible for NJ State funding. The estimated additional tax on the average assessed home of $848,037 is $551.70.


More than 1,100 new housing units are in the pipeline for construction and are expected to be completed over the next five years. If the referendum is approved by voters, Community Park and Littlebrook (the two elementary schools located closest to new and planned housing units) will each have six classrooms added. In addition, flexible small group rooms and expanded and updated core spaces will be added to both schools.


The plan also provides for additional classrooms and core spaces at Princeton Middle School, and improvements to the aging HVAC system at Princeton High School, along with the repurposing of space to create three new classrooms.


Although there will be no new construction at Johnson Park Elementary or Riverside Elementary, the new classrooms at Littlebrook and Community Park will enable those schools to receive additional students, taking the pressure of increasing enrollment off Riverside and Johnson Park.


“We have worked hard to come up with a plan to maintain small class sizes with a focus on neighborhood schools,” said Acting Superintendent Dr. Kathie Foster. “Working closely with our architects, demographers, and the community, we have developed a plan to add enough classrooms to welcome and accommodate new students as our community continues to grow,” she said.


Dr. Foster added that there have been modifications to the plans based on suggestions from the community and PPS staff.


“We value the input from our parents, our staff members, and community members,” said Dr. Foster. “When possible, we incorporated their suggestions into the plan.”

Dr. Foster praised architect George Duthie, principal at Fraytak Veisz Hopkins Duthie PC, for his innovative architectural plans and responsiveness to the community. She also thanked Michael Zuba and Pat Gallagher, who have provided PPS with demographic planning and projections for the last five years.


On Tuesday evening, Mr. Duthie presented updated architectural plans—designed to provide enough classroom and common area space for students for at least the next five to seven years—to the Board of Education and the public.


At Community Park, the six new classrooms would allow each grade level to have two sections of DLI students (who learn in both Spanish and English) and two sections of traditional-track students. An addition at the back of the school would house the new classrooms, as well as a new gymnasium and multipurpose room. Renovated spaces would include the music room, the library, the kitchen, and the cafeteria. The soccer field behind the school, used for recess, would be slightly realigned but would retain its current size and be easily accessible at lunch and recess.


At Littlebrook, six new classrooms would be built. There would also be a new vocal music room, and renovations that would create rooms for student support services.


Renovations and expansion at Princeton Middle School would create seven new rooms, including new science classrooms. There would be new multifunctional rooms that could be configured for small-group instruction. In addition, the vocal music and band rooms would be renovated to better accommodate large ensembles.


Other planned changes at PMS include an expanded cafeteria, a new entrance to the building, and a reconfigured front office. The new entrance to PMS, along with two new corridors and an outdoor covered walkway, would make a difference in the way students navigate the hallways during passing periods and lunch, said Mr. Duthie. The flow of student traffic will be greatly improved when students have better, more direct ways to get from one wing to another.


With the addition of new classrooms, PMS will be able to keep its popular “house” system, which ensures that students are part of a smaller community within the school. Each grade level has two houses.


At Princeton High School, approximately $10 million would be used to upgrade the building’s HVAC system. At the other schools, new and improved HVAC systems have been installed with funds from previous referendums.


Renovation at PHS would also include reconfiguring space currently occupied by the technology department and the Numina Gallery to create flexible classrooms that could be used as instructional or gallery space. The design includes a wrap-around corridor with designated wall space and lighting conducive to the display of artwork. Three new flexible classrooms would be created as part of the redesign.  


“This referendum maximizes the use of existing spaces and will add the needed capacity for the additional students who are projected to enroll in our schools,” said Dafna Kendal, president of the Princeton Board of Education. “This will allow us to take advantage of the state aid formula that favors renovations over new construction.”


Ms. Kendal described the plan as “a well thought out and reasonable way to address the growth that we are seeing in our community.”


She thanked the Long-Term Planning Committee for “the countless hours they have put into ensuring that the referendum we present to the community meets the needs of our growing district in a fiscally responsible way.”


If approved by the NJDOE and Princeton voters, bidding on the project could begin in early 2025. The first phase of the renovation project would begin in June 2026. The second phase, after new construction is available for swing space, would begin in May 2027. Work would be completed by December 2027 or January 2028.




What will this referendum accomplish for Princeton Public Schools students?

Princeton is growing. Over the next few years, the town will see more than 1,100 new residential units. Princeton Public Schools are planning to welcome new schoolchildren, and to do so in a manner that maintains the quality and scale of current programming.

  • Achieving that goal will entail right-sizing facilities at the elementary and middle schools, and repurposing space at the high school. The referendum, if passed, will provide funds to maintain and enhance the functionality of aging school facilities, dating from the 1920s through the 1960s.
  • The 2025 referendum is focused on students and prioritizes their education. The district has paid close attention to taxpayer affordability and overall financial sustainability.
  • The referendum projects are the product of planning conversations that began in 2019 and then paused for COVID.

In spring 2023, the Board of Education directed the district administration to prioritize capacity solutions for the elementary and middle schools, sufficient for the next five to 10 years. High school capacity had been addressed in a previous referendum project. The district engaged SLAM Collaborative to provide projections of enrollments. Enrollment monitoring and projections are undertaken by the district on an ongoing basis.

What happens if the referendum does not pass?

Without the funds provided from the referendum, redistricting will happen sooner, and it will be difficult to maintain small class sizes and the neighborhood school feel that currently characterizes the elementary schools.




What are the plans for the elementary schools?

The plan for the district’s four elementary schools is to sustain and enhance their character as neighborhood schools. We want as many of our children as possible to be able to walk to school, and we want to maintain the small class sizes that are essential to personalized instruction.

  • As a practical matter, achieving that goal entails ensuring some amount of extra capacity at each school, so that when there are class cohorts that are anomalous in size, they can be accommodated without crowding.
  • Community Park and Littlebrook, the two elementary schools located closest to the new housing units, will be enlarged.
  • Redistricting will ensure that all four schools draw optimally from their surrounding neighborhoods and that there is parity in class sizes and programming. The work also will allow us to improve bus routes, decreasing ride times and transportation costs.
  • Community Park will house four classrooms for each grade level, kindergarten through fifth; this plan will allow the school to sustain two sections per grade in its dual language immersion program.
  • All other elementary schools will remain at three classrooms per grade. Community Park and Littlebrook will have additional classrooms for enrollment bubbles that may occur.
  • Core and specialized spaces will be added or renovated at both Community Park and Littlebrook.
  • At Community Park, an addition at the back of the building will accommodate classrooms, as well as a gymnasium and multipurpose room.
  • Renovated spaces at Community Park will also include the music room, the library, the kitchen, and cafeteria. The soccer field in the back of the building will be realigned to provide space for the addition.
  • At Littlebrook, the addition will house classrooms and a vocal music room. Several rooms in the existing building will be renovated to provide student support services.
  • Both Community Park and Littlebrook will net six new classrooms.

Unrelated to the referendum projects, Edwards Engineering Group/L2A has been engaged to do a playground design study for each of the four elementary schools, with the goal of ensuring safe, accessible and welcoming outdoor play spaces at each school..




What are the plans for Princeton Middle School?

The planned additions and renovations at Princeton Middle School will address all aspects of the academic program, including, importantly, the sciences. They will enhance scheduling in support of the rich academic program PPS offers. Upgrades and new classrooms at Princeton Middle School will allow our educators to improve and fine-tune the building schedule and maximize capacity in the school.

  • Improvements will accommodate additional students while sustaining the house system, which ensures that students are part of a close-knit community that supports them appropriately, especially during the transition from elementary classrooms.
  • The additions, including covered walkways and outdoor learning space, will enhance public spaces and the flow of student traffic through the building.
  • Regular classrooms and multifunctional rooms that can be configured for small group instruction will be added.
  • Purpose-designed spaces will include two new science labs and reconfigured rooms for vocal music and band, accommodating larger ensembles.
  • Teachers will have more space for collaborative activities.
  • Visitors will be welcomed into a new main office with small, private conference areas at the front of the building.
  • The expanded cafeteria and multipurpose space at the back will accommodate gym, assemblies, and enhanced food service during the day, as well as discrete public space after hours, accessible through its own exterior door.
  • The additions at the front and back of the building will incorporate two new corridors and an outdoor covered walkway to create a circular flow of traffic through the building.

How is the current plan for the middle school different from the first option that was considered?

  • The current plan renovates more of the first floor of the existing building and yields more small group and flexible teaching spaces.
  • It creates a more secure and ADA accessible entrance to the school building.
  • It expands and renovates the main office to provide more work and conference space



What are the plans for Princeton High School?

  • Renovations at Princeton High School will increase student capacity by repurposing space that had been occupied by the Information Technology department.
  • Three classrooms will be added, plus a room for small group instruction and two galleries, which can be configured into presentation and instructional space, as needed. A corridor that wraps around two of the classrooms and the galleries will itself provide additional space to display student artwork.
  • The renovation will encompass the building’s HVAC system, including the chillers, the boilers, and the air handling units. This work will bring these outdated systems up to par with those at the elementary and middle schools.

How much will the referendum projects cost taxpayers?
The approximate cost of the proposed new construction and renovations at the four schools is between $85 million and $89.5 million, which does not include potential support from the state. The specific dollar amount and the referendum questions for voters to consider will be determined after the NJDOE reviews the application and advises which portion of the costs are eligible for NJ State funding. The estimated additional tax for this referendum on the average assessed home of $848,037 is $551.70.

Do you have a question about the referendum you would like answered? Please email

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