Vol. LXIII, No. 48
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Congratulations for achievements in sports, community service, and pedagogy were the order of the evening at last weeks Princeton Regional School Districts Board of Education meeting.
First, the Princeton High School Varsity Boys Soccer State Group III championship team was recognized with a proclamation citing their teamwork and perseverance in an unbeaten season.
President Alan Hegedus then announced that Board member Walter Bliss has been awarded one of Princetons most meaningful and prestigious awards: the Humanitarian of the Year Award, presented by the Princeton Human Services Commission, in recognition of Mr. Blisss several decades of service to the community.
Superintendent Judy Wilson followed by introducing Princeton Regional School District World Language, English as a Second Language (ESL) and Bilingual Supervisor Ms. Russel, who gave an overview of PRSs ESL program, noting that despite having many aspirations for the program, they are not always fulfilled.
Explaining that the acronyms ELLS (English Language Learners), ESL, and LEP (Limited English Proficiency) are often used interchangeably. Ms. Russel reported that as of October 15, there were about 135 ESL learners in grades K through 12 in the district. Although the ball park figure hasnt varied much over the last five years, she said, the numbers change every week, with the constant arrival and departure of students. PHS accounts for the largest group of ESL students, with about 40 currently in the program. She reported that students who exit the program are monitored and offered any services they may subsequently need.
Describing the numerous languages spoken by Princetons student population, Ms. Russel noted that there are currently four students who speak Sara Chad, a language spoken by only about 4,000 people in the world. Unprepared for it as a language option, the state advised them to put down French when reporting on these students.
Ms. Russel, who participates on a team that evaluates other ESL programs across the state, noted that perhaps her greatest aspiration for Princetons program was to achieve a shared sense of responsibility. These English language learners are everybodys children.
She said that she was thrilled with the districts pre-K program for four year olds, describing it as a nice start, but adding that we need to get three-year-olds, and then we need to get two-year-olds. Board member Dorothy Bedford reported her own sense that the pre-K program was impressing families whose children are in it with the importance of education.
Ms. Bedford spoke again in her capacity as chair of the Finance Committee, reporting that although expenses are currently on track, its too early to say what the impact of the gubernatorial election will have on public schools. She described the outlook for the 2010-2011 budget as dismal, adding that the committee will seek responsible solutions in developing it.
The importance of parental involvement was evoked again in liaison Timothy Quinns report on a recent meeting of the Minority Education Committee, where Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Bonnie Lehet gave a presentation on how the district is meeting the mandates of the Federal governments No Child Left Behind program. Mr. Quinn noted that parental involvement is of particular interest to the committee, and that their January 16 meeting would be the first of several to solicit feedback from parents on how they experience the districts work with their children.
Other agenda items at Tuesdays board meeting included the approval of a request for additional services by A & J Consulting Engineering Services, for the space efficiency and rehabilitation project at the Valley Road site, for an amount not to exceed $10,500.
The board also unanimously approved a resolution to direct and authorize the Superintendent of Schools to express the Boards opposition and concerns regarding current application(s) and future applications made to the Commissioner of Education for the establishment of charter schools that target Princeton Borough and Princeton Township school-aged children. The resolution noted that the basis for this opposition is to protect the Princeton Regional School Districts fiscal ability and organizational capacity to maintain programs of excellence for all public school students in our community. Ms. Wilson said that we will be very specific in our opposition to charter school applications, noting that each differs in the target populations it proposes to serve. There is currently an application for a Mandarin language, International Baccalaureate-granting charter school in the district.
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