Planning Our Schools’ Future
Community Planning Session
We are grateful for the high public turn-out of nearly 200 citizens who attended the January 25 community planning session at PHS, where we discussed enrollment growth, the state of our school facilities, and the education future for our children. At that session, the District planning firm, Milone & MacBroom (M&M), presented their assessment of the district’s future needs and listened to and recorded community priorities for the future of our schools. M&M will consider these priorities as they develop, over the next several months, alternative strategies for the community and the Board to consider.
There will be additional opportunities for the public to ask questions and give feedback to our planners in the next few months, as M&M moves forward with next steps in the facilities master planning process. With community input, M&M will develop multiple alternatives for consideration, with a final report to be provided to the Board by the end of June 2020.
If you are interested in learning more about the factors, formulas and assumptions our demographers used to project growth, please attend a Demographics Discussion on Thursday, February 27 from 7:00 PM at the Board Office, 25 Valley Road.
The discussion will be facilitated electronically by Mike Zuba and Rebecca Augur, our consultants from Milone & MacBroom. Also in attendance: George Sundell, another demographer for the District; Ralph Widner, the former chair of our Future Enrollment Committee; and Bob Powell, the chair of our Strategic Advisory Committee and an expert in the school impact of affordable and related market rate housing. We welcome your attendance and your input.
Why We Hired Planners
We have significant challenges before us a school district and a community as we strive to continue providing an excellent public education for all of our students - and the many more that we know are coming in the next few years. These challenges stem from steadily rising enrollments, the limited capacity of aging facilities, and budgetary constraints.
The referendum projects approved by the community in December 2019 are underway and will add some additional learning capacity at both PHS and John Witherspoon Middle School, but do not fully address these challenges. As stewards of the public schools, on behalf of the public, our duty requires that we oversee the smooth implementation of these projects while also planning for the future.
In January 2020, the Board "reset" and refocused its efforts on developing cost-effective solutions to accommodate enrollment growth in a manner consistent with our educational mission and values. To do this, we are:
- Defining and validating District needs
- Engaging and collaborating with community members, local institutions and the municipality
- Seeking advice from community experts and professionals with planning and design expertise.
In September 2020, at the recommendation of citizen experts on our Ad Hoc Committee on Growth and Capacity, the Board engaged the professional planning firm Milone & Macbroom. M&M is developing, through engagement with the wider community and the Board, several alternative solutions to address growth and capacity challenges, with a final report expected in June 2020. M&M is a collaboration of Experts in Architecture, Demographics, Housing, Land Use, Enrollment Projections, School Facility Planning and Redistricting, with extensive experience in developing planning solutions for school districts and municipalities throughout the Northeast.
M&M is being guided in its data analysis by a Technical Advisory Committee of PPS, municipal and community leaders with expertise and understanding of Princeton-specific data. PPS has also enlisted over 30 "community liaisons" from community organizations and interest groups to help ensure broad community participation in the planning process.
Data considered by M&M in its analysis of PPS enrollment and capacity includes the school impact analysis of Princeton's proposed affordable housing settlement, provided at no cost to the District, by citizen volunteer Bob Powell of Nassau Capital Advisors, LLC. M&M also considered the District's most recent draft demographic reports, which were developed with input from citizens on our Ad Hoc Committee on Future Enrollment.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Future Enrollment
In February, 2019, the Board convened an Ad Hoc Committee on Future Enrollment of local citizens to review the District's demographer's model and assumptions and to help explain updated enrollment projections to the Board and to the community. This committee's charge may be viewed here. The committee worked with the District's demographer through September 2020, providing input on modeling assumptions unique to Princeton. The committee, made up of citizen volunteers, was not in a position to do the analysis necessary to prepare a broader narrative about population growth and, in September 2020, handed off the task to professional demographers at Milone & MacBroom, the professional planning firm retained by the District in September 2020 to review and validate enrollment and capacity data.
The Ad Hoc Strategic Advisory Committee on Growth and Capacity
In May, 2019, the Board convened an Ad Hoc Strategic Advisory Committee on Growth and Capacity of local citizens with expertise in areas including planning, policy, the school impact of residential development and real estate development. This Committee advises the Board and Superintendent on the school impact of municipal land use planning, site planning and other matters as set forth in its charge.
The Board is considering how to best move forward with a collaborative planning process. We want to develop optimal, financially-viable alternatives to address current and future facilities needs, in light of known and anticipated residential growth in Princeton.
To do this, we need the help of community members in finding solutions. We are fortunate to live in a community with deep expertise and a strong devotion to public education. If you would like to offer your expertise and/or thoughts, suggestions and insights as we move forward with planning, please feel free to reach out here.
Technical Advisory - Steve Cochrane, (Superintendent); Annie Kosek (Assistant Superintendent); Matt Bouldin; David Harding; Beth Behrend; Brian McDonald; Susan Kanter; Luis Ramirez; Tim charleston; Jessica Baxter; John McCann; Bob Powell; Rob Freudenberg; Leighton Newlin; David Cohen; Molly Jones; Christina Walden; Michael LaPlace; Deanna Stockton; Ben Stentz; Jen Ealy.
Ad Hoc Future Enrollment - Ralph Widner (Chair), Jian Chen, Lance Liverman, Jeffrey Oakman, Wendy Wilton and Brandice Canes-Wrone.
Ad Hoc Strategic Advisory Committee on Growth and Capacity - Robert Powell (Chair), Ginny Bryant, Esq., Robert Freudenberg, Harry Levine, Alison Isenberg and Chris Sturm.