Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 5
 
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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Board of Education Echoes the Call For Additional Support From University

Ellen Gilbert

At its monthly meeting last week, the Princeton Regional Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution calling for a “dialogue with the Township, Borough, and University leaders in order to seek resources for the continuation of services that make our school community one of the nation’s best public systems and our towns desirable places in which to learn and live.”

“I despair of the possibility of this excellent school system continuing its trajectory of excellence unless we find other revenue sources,” said President Alan Hegedus. “We cannot continue unless a paradigm shift is made. We would be derelict in our duties as public servants if we didn’t reach out for at least a dialogue with the university.”

Although he did not name specific schools this time, Mr. Hegedus reiterated some of the comments he made at a recent Township Committee meeting, where he described more supportive roles assumed by other Ivy League schools and their “host communities.”

“It’s a big gap, and it’s unsustainable,” he said, describing the difference between Princeton University and other institutions. “In no way do I point a finger at tax exempt institutions, but the fact of the matter is that our elected officials have been notoriously unwilling to make this an issue. Now I congratulate them and us for going ahead with it,” he said, alluding to the recent passage, by the Borough and the Township, of resolutions calling on the University to assume a greater role as a Princeton taxpayer.

Board member Mia Cahill noted that although she “didn’t necessarily agree” with Mr. Hegedus’s reasons, she “wholeheartedly supports the resolution.” She did not elaborate on her differences of opinion with Mr. Hegedus.

Saying that his daughter is a student receiving scholarship assistance at Princeton University and there might appear to be a conflict, Board member Walter Bliss abstained from the vote.

Noting that “we were very specific about our opposition to this application,” Superintendent Judy Wilson acknowledged the recent approval by the State Department of Education of a new area charter school that will offer Mandarin immersion and International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. She said that despite the approval of the Princeton International Academy Charter School (PIACS), which will serve the Princeton Regional, South Brunswick, and West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional school districts, “We will continue to oppose future applications for charter schools that might impact our resources and ability to continue to perform at a high level.”

Ms. Wilson also reported that the district’s “Hearts to Haiti: Princeton to Port-au-Prince” relief effort had identified four international organizations to receive contributions, beginning in late March.

With respect to next year’s budget, Ms. Wilson noted that the election of a new governor meant that there is less information to work with than is usual at this point in the year. With state numbers due mid-March, she observed, “we will have to plan in a short window of time.”

Petitions to run for upcoming openings on the school board are now available at the Board of Education Office on Valley Road. One Borough and two Township seats will be voted on in the April 20 election. Petitions are due March 1. For more information see www.prs.k12.nj.us/BoardofEd/Election.

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