To the Editor:
Town Topics' articles on the March 30 School Board meeting, and the United Way's study of the Latino community in Mercer County, respectively, incorrectly state the number of students enrolled in the ESL or ESL/Bilingual programs in the Princeton Regional School District. Both articles report the number as 71. The correct number is 116, spread among all six schools as detailed in the 2004-05 budget report presented to the School Board meeting.
I appreciate the inclusion of my comments at the Board meeting expressing concern for the cutbacks planned in the teaching staff for these programs. The impact on the level of services provided to these students, who are among the most at-risk in the district, cannot be other than highly detrimental. Decreases in enrollment alone cannot justify reducing the teaching staff by a third. We are hopeful the administration might reconsider this decision, given its and the Board's heartfelt commitment to addressing the achievement gap among our minority students.
At the Latin American Task Force of Princeton, a coalition of community organizations, social service agencies, and concerned individuals, we are alarmed to note that when combined with the quickly vanishing affordable housing in our community, this decrease in school resources would compound the sense of siege that many Hispanic families are feeling.
To the Editor:
This is in response to the letters of Ed Griffin, George Brown, and Louis Edge (Town Topics, March 31), [headlined] "Proponents of Township's Deer Kill Take Issue With Program's Opponent."
The proponents think the deer slaughter is necessary to curtail car-deer accidents. If the Township were serious about curtailing accidents, permanent roadside wildlife warning reflectors would have been installed throughout the Township years ago, at a fraction of the cost of killing.
According to studies in several states, reflectors reduce car-deer accidents by at least 80 percent, which is a much higher rate than what has been achieved through killing. The reflectors are a non-recurrent cost, unlike the perpetual cost of yearly deer killing.
Reflectors won't work properly unless roadside brush is cleared way back from them. They have been shown to work in cases where this has been done, unlike in Princeton where reflectors have been installed on two short stretches of Rosedale and The Great Roads. In both places the brush comes right to the edge of the road.
Although Township Committee has denied it all along, the Committee recently admitted that the killing will continue indefinitely. This is because deer reproduce to accommodate the food supply provided by suburban sprawl. When a large number of deer are removed in a suburban setting such as Princeton, abundant food is left for the survivors, which respond by reproducing at a higher than normal rate. Why didn't Township Committee inform residents of this fact five years ago before the "culling" started?
Princeton had 1,200 deer five years ago because that number is what the habitat and food supply will support. Even in the first year of slaughter Anthony DeNicola, the Township's contract killer, said the killed deer were healthy; they weren't starving.
Mr. Edge has asked for alternatives. They are:
Stop the killing because removing deer doesn't reduce the deer population long term unless the food supply is also removed. Killing deer without removing the food supply is like constantly mopping your floor instead of plugging a leak in the roof.
Continue the immunocontraception program on a regional basis; put it out to bid to firms that don't have a conflict of interest.
Install wildlife warning reflectors throughout the Township.
Get independent wildlife biologists and ecologists involved who are not connected to the Fish and Game Council, White Buffalo, or Rutgers University, who will be capable of doing objective scientific studies. The Fish and Game Council, White Buffalo, and Rutgers benefit financially by promoting deer kills.
Random killing of deer at taxpayer expense won't solve gardening problems. Fencing and repellents will.
To the Editor:
Among the many good reasons why the Township should end its association with Tony DeNicola and White Buffalo are those outlined below.
1. Tony DeNicola and his snipers were not allowed to shoot within 450 feet of homes, yet on several occasions evidence has been found that this restriction was ignored. While residents slept, military-grade ammunition was being fired in close proximity to homes, exposing families to grave danger.
2. Mr. DeNicola was required under the terms of his contract to give notice to nearby residents as to the time and place of his killing operations. This was frequently not done, putting citizens at great risk. The high-velocity .223 bullets shot by White Buffalo, at night using silenced rifles, posed a significant threat to public safety. Neighbors we contacted were shocked and outraged to learn that they were not alerted to the lethal activity taking place near their homes.
3. Mr. DeNicola assured the public that shooting would only be done against a safe topographic backdrop and at downward angles. Again, evidence reveals that this was not always the case. White Buffalo shooters have fired into a forest in a direct line to houses which could be seen only a few hundred yards away. A ricocheting .223 slug can put these homes and their occupants in harm's way.
4. Mr. DeNicola maintains that each deer is killed instantly with a single headshot, but opponents were denied opportunities to verify this. In fact, the entire program has been conducted with the utmost secrecy, with a heavy-handed police presence to prevent anyone from documenting the slaughter. In other parts of the country where White Buffalo has culled deer, witnesses reported that multiple body shots were used, with the wounded animals writhing on the ground in agony for several minutes before plastic bags were tied over their heads to suffocate them. These are clearly not clean kills, nor the work of "expert marksmen."
5. Mr. DeNicola blamed local hunters for not trying hard enough to kill deer, while he covertly lured deer onto baited land adjacent to parcels designated for private hunting use. This underhanded tactic is typical of White Buffalo's modus operandi.
Despite repeated OPRA requests to obtain information on the actual cost to taxpayers of this brutal deer eradication program, Township officials have refused to disclose figures. What is it about this program that they don't want the public to know?
When a cost/benefit analysis is done it becomes clear that well-maintained road reflectors, which have been used successfully in other states, would dramatically reduce car-deer collisions at a fraction of the cost of killing 1,200 animals. Township residents should demand an immediate end to the carnage and persuade officials to adopt innovative, non-lethal solutions.
To the Editor:
In my opinion Dr. Claire Sheff Kohn did an outstanding job in her role as Superintendent of the Princeton Regional School System. I wish her the best of luck in her new position in Massachusetts.
It is my opinion that it is in the best interests of students in the Princeton Regional School System to have a new superintendent who is already a high ranking administrator for the Princeton Regional Schools. I do not think it is in our best interest to once again have a nationwide search.
To the Editor:
The Princeton Regional Education Association wishes Dr. Claire Kohn much success in her new position as superintendent in the Masconomet (Mass.) Regional School District.
We appreciate her work on behalf of the Princeton Regional Schools and will continue to work with Dr. Kohn, the Board, and the Administration to ensure a smooth transition in the months to come.