Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 16
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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Budget Passes; Spalla, Bedford, Chrein on Board

Ellen Gilbert

In a Township- and Borough-wide election on Tuesday, Princeton residents voted in favor of a 3.9 percent tax hike to support the 2010-2011 school budget. At press time, the unofficial vote in the Township was 1,740 votes for the budget, 813 against. In the Borough, 619 voters supported the budget, with 330 voting against it.

The tax rates will be different for the two municipalities. For the Borough it will mean an increase of $244 for the average assessed home of $753,125. The Township tax impact will be $139 for the average assessed home of $837,300.

In the Borough, where one school board seat was available, candidate Andrea Spalla ran unopposed, and received 651 votes.

In the Township, Board member Dorothy Bedford was reelected with 1,263 votes, and Molly Chrein captured the second vacant seat with 1,594 votes. Third candidate Afsheen Shamsi received 1,080 votes.

At $71,518,029, the budget is still $2.6 million dollars, or 3.54 percent less than last year’s. Princeton Regional Schools (PRS), historically considered an “over-adequacy” district, was subjected to significant cuts in state support this year as a result of New Jersey’s most recent “adequacy-based” funding formula for public education. The state’s goal is to move all districts toward “median” spending levels.

The governor cut state aid to PRS by 67 percent, or $3.7 million. An additional three million dollar gap existed due to lost revenue in interest monies; decreased tuition from Cranbury; and increased costs of benefits, insurances, energy, and contractual salaries. As a result, services, programs, and as many as 50 positions may be eliminated across the district.

The PRS website notes that “exactly who will lose positions or be reduced to less than full-time will take most of April to ascertain. The complexities of seniority, ‘bumping rights,’ etc., all come into play. We are working diligently to construct the delivery systems first and then to determine personnel.”

Despite the budget cuts, full day kindergarten has not been changed, and core classroom sizes have not been impacted.

The governor said he would make money available to those districts whose teachers accept a wage freeze. The Princeton teachers’ union is reported to be still in negotiations on this question.

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