Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 15
 
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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Excellence, Not Adequacy, Is Our Goal, Says Regional Schools Superintendent

JUDITH A. WILSON
Superintendent,
Princeton Regional Schools

Community Is Invited to Participate in Earth Day Celebration on April 25

SUKI WASSERMAN
Meadowbrook Drive

Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale Donors Included Those Who Contributed Time

FRANCES REICHL
Brooks Bend
On Behalf of the Steering Committee,
Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale

Candidate for Regional School Board Presents Her Credentials and Vision

MOLLY CHREIN
Ridgeview Road

Could Too Much Mulch Have Contributed to Uprooting of Trees in Recent Storm?

JUDITH K. ROBINSON
Salem Court

Molly Chrein, Advocate for Children, Endorsed for Princeton School Board

ANNE B. BURNS
Baldwin Lane
JANE M. SHEEHAN
Mt. Lucas Road

Regional School Board Member Urges Passage of School Budget on April 20

WALTER R. BLISS JR.
Member, Princeton Regional School Board
Moore Street


Editor’s Note: The following is a copy of an Open Letter to Princeton Parents and Community Members.

Excellence, Not Adequacy, Is Our Goal, Says Regional Schools Superintendent

To the Editor:

We are certainly in challenging and difficult times. The economic forces at play on national and state levels are impacting our district in unprecedented ways. While responding to the realities of decreased revenues and new mandates over recent years, Princeton Regional has been able to conduct business in more efficient ways, to be creative in staffing and program development, to gain concessions in negotiated contracts, and to keep our focus on excellence for every child in our care. But as I write to you today, there is much at risk.

The funding formula which drives New Jersey’s public schools is labeled “the adequacy formula.” Adequacy has never been the goal of any academic or co-curricular program in the Princeton Regional Schools. You certainly didn’t choose to reside in Princeton because the schools are “adequate” or your expectations for the education of our community’s children are “adequate.” Indeed, we are all here for excellence. But with each passing month, less and less in our educational system is under our direct local control. With every new regulation, restriction or law, there are fewer options about programs, personnel, and services for our students. Yet it is excellence that we must always deliver.

As we face the loss of $3.7 million in state aid and an additional gap of over $3 million, we will be decreasing staff by as many as 50 positions, eliminating many programs and support services, and redesigning the delivery of others. With every decision, we have worked diligently to keep our focus on the instructional core, to maintain class sizes, and to alter programs without eliminating them whenever possible. This is a revenue problem. But it is a revenue problem which equates to an educational problem and that is very different from a manufacturing or a banking problem. This is about our children’s future and the way we prepare them to think, live, and thrive in the world.

As you go to the polls on April 20, it will not be to determine the fate of a proposed expansion or a new set of services. Nor will it be to cast a vote regarding the maintenance of what we offer today. It will be to vote on a budget that is $2.6 million less than the current year budget and it will be a question of stopping the loss. Please go to the polls!

The Princeton community highly values education and has made a deep commitment to the Princeton Regional Schools for many decades. We understand that communities thrive when their families and educational systems thrive. Together we will think, create, and work our way through them so that our children continue to thrive and excel.

JUDITH A. WILSON
Superintendent,
Princeton Regional Schools

Community Is Invited to Participate in Earth Day Celebration on April 25

To the Editor:

I would like to make Princeton residents and neighbors aware of an opportunity to come together as a community to celebrate Earth Day on April 25, and make a difference in our town.

Princeton’s Earth Day Celebration is a free event that includes three activities:

1) a school garden preparation and compost bin demonstration from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Littlebrook Elementary School;

2) a stream and park clean-up from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m. at Turning Basin Park (by the Alexander Road entrance to the tow path); and

3) a community-wide bike ride on the towpath from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. beginning at the Alexander Road entrance.

Participants are welcome to come to one or all of the events. We hope to see you there! 

SUKI WASSERMAN
Meadowbrook Drive

Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale Donors Included Those Who Contributed Time

To the Editor:

The 79th Annual Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale is over for another year, and on behalf of our happy but tired volunteers, our Book Sale Steering Committee wishes to thank all those who made this year’s sale a success. Our customers turned out in large numbers and we tried to have an attractive sale for those who came after the Preview Sale Day. That was the logic behind postponing the general admission until the second day.

We have a wonderful group of donors who generously provide us with their books to recycle. A loyal group of volunteers, alumnae from Bryn Mawr and Wellesley Colleges and their spouses, parents of students, and an ever increasing number of friends of the book sale worked tirelessly to price and arrange the largest number of books we have had in recent years.

But even with all their help, we could not have managed without the contributions of over 30 high school volunteers from The Lawrenceville School, The Hun School of Princeton, Princeton Day School, East Brunswick High School, Stuart Country Day School, and The Foote School and Avon Old Farms, both in Connecticut. Lastly we want to thank Princeton Day School for providing the smoothest operation we have ever enjoyed. They anticipated our needs before they arose.

As ever, the profits from the sale go to fund scholarships to the two named colleges for young women from Central New Jersey.

FRANCES REICHL
Brooks Bend
On Behalf of the Steering Committee,
Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale

Candidate for Regional School Board Presents Her Credentials and Vision

To the Editor:

I am a candidate for the Princeton Regional School Board. I am running because I believe schools are the infrastructure of our community and we must continue to strive for excellence, not adequacy, in education. My professional and community volunteer experiences give me a strong and unique perspective on the issues that the schools and the taxpayers who support them face.

I have witnessed the consequences to communities, families, and individuals caused by failing to fully support schools. As an attorney, I worked for 13 years in the criminal courts as a public defender in New York City and later in Prince George’s County, Maryland. For the last four years I have been a child advocate for CASA of Mercer County (Court Appointed Special Advocates), an organization that works with the courts to report and advocate on behalf of children in the family court system. I am a member of the Youth Concerns Committee, a group that meets to discuss the issues and services that impact the youth of Princeton. While I have been active with the PTOs here in Princeton I have concentrated on serving as a Board Member of the Princeton Education Foundation, which raises private funds to support the Princeton Regional School District. As a past Parent Teacher Association president I gained experience advocating for school and city budget funding for my children’s school.

My husband, Andy Hyman, and I chose to live in Princeton because of the high quality and reputation of the school system. My two children attend the Princeton Regional Schools. As a volunteer in the schools, as well as through my work with PEF, I have witnessed our schools’ efforts to help every child reach his or her potential for excellence. We must continue this commitment to educational innovation and bridging the achievement gap. At the same time it is crucial to protect the interests of the taxpayers. The increasing tax burden that state funding cuts, state mandates, and skyrocketing health care costs place on the Princeton taxpayers must be addressed.

As a member of the School Board, I will continue to work so that the preeminence of education that is the hallmark of our community, as well as the basis of our property values, is maintained. I will continue to search for alternative yet appropriate ways to fund that excellence. While it is important to raise private funding we must be prudent that we use that funding in ways that will not create a fiscal burden or an obligation that is counter to our mission of excellence in education. We need to continue to advocate for our share of all the state and federal tax based funding that is rightfully ours and fight unfair burdens that are placed on our schools by the state.

Vote on April 20. The polls are open from noon to 9 p.m.

MOLLY CHREIN
Ridgeview Road

Could Too Much Mulch Have Contributed to Uprooting of Trees in Recent Storm?

To the Editor:

From not too long ago when no mulching was used, the practice has now progressed to a misunderstanding of how it should be applied. In fact it is now leading to the shortening of tree life and the weakening of their root systems which leads to being susceptible to uprooting, the evidence of which we saw in these past storms. I call it an “epidemic of mulch” as it seems to be perpetuated by landscapers and property owners all over this area. 

Mulching should be from 3 to 8 inches away from the tree trunk, depending on tree size and age. If the mulch is right up against the bark it provides a moist environment for bark rot and other fungal diseases to proliferate. It also provides homes for rodents and insects that feed on the bark. Both of these situations lead to damaging the cambium that transports nutrients and moisture to the tree, thus shortening its life.

Mulch should only be from 2” to 3” in depth and not be applied in a “volcano” shape that slants upwards from the ground to the tree. It should be laid out flat, and ideally extend to the dripline of the tree — that is, to where the farthest branch stretches. If mulch is applied in the “volcano” shape or is too thick, roots are developed that are not true roots as they are formed from stem tissue, not root tissue. They are shallow and therefore cannot support the tree and can grow upwards and girdle the tree and begin to choke it. They take up nutrients which need to be going to the true roots. Too much mulch can also lead to actually preventing moisture from going to the deep root system.

Attention needs to be paid to the type of mulch used and should never include chips from pressure-treated lumber, telephone poles, or construction materials. 

Trees need care, which includes feeding them the right nutrients along with proper watering. Soil analysis, identifying the tree species, and the resultant proper deep feeding will extend the life of your trees. 

JUDITH K. ROBINSON
Salem Court

Molly Chrein, Advocate for Children, Endorsed for Princeton School Board

To the Editor:

We are writing to express our support for Molly Chrein as a candidate for a Township seat on the Princeton Regional School Board. During our tenure on the Princeton Education Foundation board we had the privilege of working with Molly. She is thoughtful, articulate, and a hard worker. She would come to the board with no agenda other than a commitment to providing students with an excellent education and a promise to provide taxpayers with fiscal accountability. 

Her background as an attorney, her experiences as a school volunteer and an advocate for children in the family court system, and her commitment to public education will make Molly an excellent addition to the Princeton School Board. We encourage all Princeton residents to vote for Molly Chrein for a Township seat on the Board on April 20; and to vote yes on the school budget.

ANNE B. BURNS
Baldwin Lane
JANE M. SHEEHAN
Mt. Lucas Road

Regional School Board Member Urges Passage of School Budget on April 20

To the Editor:

As the result of a 67 percent reduction in State aid, the Princeton Regional School Board has been forced to approve a budget for next school year that reduces total spending by more than 3.5 percent over the current school year in spite of the escalating costs of contract obligations, state mandates, and health insurance.

The reductions in spending needed to balance the budget within the state-imposed cap will necessitate the layoff of more than 50 employees, including just under 20 teachers, and a broad swath of program and co-curricular cuts. It is a tough budget to support but I urge voters to do so on April 20. Contributions by the PREA and the Princeton Charter School that would reduce some of the damage have not been forthcoming but cannot be ruled out. Rejection of the budget at referendum — which will require our local governing bodies to consider further debilitating cuts — can only make matters worse.

WALTER R. BLISS JR.
Member, Princeton Regional School Board
Moore Street

For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.

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