Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 48
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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Board Approves Student Progress Policy

Ellen Gilbert

At its Tuesday evening meeting last week, the Board of Education unanimously approved a first reading of a new policy on student progress.

“This policy codifies what the district is already doing,” commented Personnel Committee Chair Walter Bliss. “It reflects our interest in doing comprehensive assessments of all students; in informing parents of students’ progress; and offering appropriate remedial measures wherever necessary.”

The new policy, which focuses on basic skills in grades kindergarten through five and involves what Mr. Bliss described as “systematic data collection,” is the result of a collaborative effort that included, in addition to the personnel committee, both the program and strategic action committees, as well as input from Assistant Superintendents Lew Goldstein and Bonnie Lehat.

“This policy formalizes an 18-month-old, very successful benchmark program,” said Program Committee Chairman Tim Quinn. In addition to monitoring every student, he said, it mandates the creation of customized instructional programs that address areas where students need more help; a practice that routinely extends through grade 12 in the district.

Last week’s meeting also saw the presentation of a $32,000 check to the district from the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF). The money is earmarked for a variety uses, including math programs, new technology, and teacher mini-grants. “The foundation just continues to amaze us at every turn, providing more depth to our resources” said Superintendent Judy Wilson, as she accepted the gift from PEF President Shari Powell.

Supplements from PEF, however, are unlikely to forestall a potential $3 million shortfall in the school budget next year. Finance Committee Chair Charles Kalmbach said that there will be an announcement in the near future about a public forum on school finances to be held during the second week of January.

Legislative Action Task Force member Dan Haughton also advised area residents to be mindful during the next six weeks of pending state legislation that could have “potentially detrimental” effects on district finances and “how we use our resources.” Mr. Haughton noted that the task force is “keeping a close eye” on the situation while working with Save Our Schools, a grass roots lobbying effort that opposes recent budget cuts to education in the state.

A Princeton High School screening of The Race to Nowhere, a movie about excessive pressure on today’s students, prompted “interesting discussions” among the over 500 people who attended, Ms. Wilson reported. Conversations about “the pressures, stresses, and schedules under which kids today operate” will, she said, continue in the future, as “we try to find more balance in our worlds.”

As it has in recent years, the Board chose to table a vote on the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, reiterating its concern that teachers and administrators should not be perceived by students as “agents of the police.”

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