Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 49
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
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Shortfall From Utility Bills a Concern as PRS Looks to Financial Future

Ellen Gilbert

“Now the bad news,” said Finance Committee Chair Josh Leinsdorf as he began his report at last week’s Princeton Regional School (PRS) District Board of Education Meeting. He proceeded to describe a shortfall of up to a half million dollars in the district’s utilities account, a result, he said, of rising consumption of water and energy at higher rates. If previous years’ bills come up for payment, he added, the deficit could become as high as $1 million.

Mr. Leinsdorf concluded, however, that “for the immediate future,” the district is actually in good shape.” President Alan Hegedus noted that the board’s recent budget workshop was the beginning of an effort to find long-range plans to address the bleak financial future.

Other reports at the relatively brief pre-Thanksgiving meeting included Minority Education Committee (MEC) liaison Tim Quinn’s account of the committee’s response to data presented by Superintendent Judy Wilson, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Bonnie Lehet, and Director of Student Services Agnes Golding, at a Minority Education Committee meeting the previous week about recent strides in closing the achievement gap among minority students in the district. Their reports indicated that, in general, standardized test scores among these students have risen over the last 18 months. In addition to charting quantifiable data, the presentation emphasized the inclusiveness of this effort, with “daily work” involving many people at every grade level participating in order to effect change.

“The committee was pleased to see that progress has been made, and that the district acknowledged that there is still considerable work to be done,” said Mr. Quinn, reporting on the MEC’s follow-up meeting to the presentation. MEC Chair Caroline L. Mitchell had personally responded to an earlier inquiry by saying that she “was pleased with the level of detail of the reports, and the K through 12 articulation of programs and assessment of progress.” Ms. Mitchell, who is also the director of the YWCA Princeton and Trenton Racial Justice Institute, noted that the MEC would continue to work with the Board of Education and the Administration on minority achievement concerns. This interest in a continued dialog was apparent on Tuesday evening when Mr. Quinn reported that “in analyzing and discussing the data, we realized that it would be worthwhile to have Judy Wilson at another MEC meeting.”

The next Board of Education meeting will be Tuesday, December 16, at 8 p.m. in the John Witherspoon Middle School cafeteria.

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