Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 4
 
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
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Princeton Charter School Called Upon to Amend “Discriminatory” Admissions

RAHUL BHATIA
Mount Lucas Road

Township Should Approve Market-Rate Senior Housing on Princeton Ridge Site

ROGIE ROME
Linwood Circle

Republicans? Democrats? Libertarians? Beware Politicians Who “Know Better”

WILLIAM STEPHENSON
Governors Lane

Princeton Symphony Orchestra Is Urged to Return Mark Laycock to Its Podium

MARVIN HAROLD CHEITEN
Meadowbrook Drive

Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance Looks Back on Accomplishments, and Ahead

KEN CARLSON
President
West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance


Princeton Charter School Called Upon to Amend “Discriminatory” Admissions

To the Editor:

The Princeton Charter School recently conducted its annual lottery for admitting students to the 2008-09 school year. The admissions policy of the school brought forth an interesting detail, which I believe runs counter to the mission of the school and is discriminatory in nature. I would like to highlight this to the residents of Princeton, who may have been either impacted by this in the past or would be impacted by it in the future if any of their children seek admission to the school, and encourage them to reach out to the school’s board of trustees to amend the admission policy.

The admission policy states that “admission to PCS is offered on an equal basis to all residents of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough; since every year the number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces available, admission is by random lottery.” However, it also states, “Younger siblings of enrolled resident students have priority over other applicants provided they apply to the school when first eligible.”

This policy significantly skews the admission process towards a select set of families within Princeton and does not enable a diverse set of families and students to fully leverage the benefits of the education offered. To illustrate, 13 of the 18 students offered admission to the kindergarten class starting September 2008 are younger siblings of enrolled resident students.

Because of this reservation policy, a September 2008 kindergarten applicant with no older siblings enrolled in PCS had only a 1 in 13 chance of admission. If the reservation policy did not exist, a kindergarten applicant would have a 1 in 4 chance of admission.

The resulting outcome runs counter to the mission of PCS, which states: “Princeton Charter School will seek a diverse student body.”

In addition, since the school is funded by state and local tax dollars, I think the admission policy should be open to all Princeton residents. The current policy discriminates against first-time parents and parents with only one child.

The rationale for providing preference to younger siblings of students is outlined on the school website as “To avoid splitting up families in this initial year, the oldest child will be entered in the lottery, and if that child is selected for admission, any younger siblings who may also be applying will be automatically admitted to their respective grade levels on a first priority basis.” This rationale is not very convincing given that the families would be “split” once the older sibling graduates to attend a high school in the area while the younger sibling stays in PCS.

Princeton Charter School should re-evaluate its admission policy and remove the admission priority for younger siblings of enrolled students. This would be aligned with the overall mission that the school has been founded on and have a broader impact on the community as compared to being confined to a small subset of families.

RAHUL BHATIA
Mount Lucas Road

Township Should Approve Market-Rate Senior Housing on Princeton Ridge Site

To the Editor:

I am writing to correct some of the misinformation being circulated about the proposed zoning amendment and about the Bunn Drive site.

The Township Committee is not meeting to approve Hillier’s plan. It is, rather, introducing an ordinance to amend and improve an already-existing ordinance that allows senior housing on the Bunn Drive land.

Although opposition to the zoning amendment is being positioned as “preserving the Princeton ridge,” the zoning amendment has nothing to do with that. The 20-plus acre site being discussed is already zoned for office use and market rate senior housing. The site is surrounded by developed areas, except for one side bounded by Hilltop Park. Bunn Drive is the home of the Princeton Charter School, Church and Dwight, Princeton HomeCare Services, and several other uses.

Something will be built on this site. It is zoned for it, and is a permitted use. Do we want something that meets current zoning standards which allow for a large office building with 454 parking spaces and much more impervious coverage? We can, instead, have a much more environmentally sensitive development, confined to 20 percent of the site, that will provide 122 market rate senior units, plus 24 middle income units and 12 affordable units. This proposal addresses a longstanding need for senior housing that has been in the Princeton Master Plan for almost 20 years.

Those concerned with “preserving the ridge” have not spoken out in opposition to other Bunn Drive developments, nor have they found or advocated for any other sites where market rate senior housing might be built. We have all been looking for sites for market rate senior housing for many years. Other proposed or possible sites have been preserved or have been put to other uses.

It is time for Princeton to provide market-rate senior housing for its residents.

ROGIE ROME
Linwood Circle

Republicans? Democrats? Libertarians? Beware Politicians Who “Know Better”

To the Editor:

History is replete with examples of civilizations where the leadership has become insulated from the will of the governed. If public servants are perpetuated in power, regardless of the quality of their decisions, the end result often requires a lot of pain to rectify.

It doesn’t matter whether the public servants call themselves Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Socialists, or Libertarians. Perpetuation in power creates entrenched bureaucrats who feel their judgment is superior to the public.

Consider:

People: A new library is needed, but please make it modest enough in size that we can afford to pay for it. Our Leadership: We know better.

People: If a new municipal office building is needed, please make it modest enough that we can afford to pay for it. Our Leadership: We know better.

People: Senior citizens who love the community are being forced to leave, not because of a lack of housing stock but because the tax rates are beyond our ability to pay. Our Leadership: We know better.

People: Please don’t let a wealthy builder destroy an environmentally fragile part of our community. Here is a petition with over 1,000 residents who are horrified by this action. Our Leadership: We know better.

Stay tuned.

WILLIAM STEPHENSON
Governors Lane

Princeton Symphony Orchestra Is Urged to Return Mark Laycock to Its Podium

To the Editor:

On January 18, I had the pleasure of attending a spectacular concert in Richardson Auditorium honoring the 94th birthday of Princeton’s Bill Scheide. The Auditorium was sold out, and we were treated to the music of Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, played by the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie and brilliantly conducted by Mark Laycock.

This wonderful concert again demonstrated the power and artistry of maestro Laycock’s work as conductor, and again raises the question of why the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, where Mr. Laycock was music director for 21 years, so recklessly let him go. The wild enthusiasm of the audience at the Scheide concert, and the many standing ovations given to maestro Laycock and the orchestra, clearly demonstrate what an artistic treasure Mr. Laycock has been in the world of classical music and the eagerness with which Princeton audiences would welcome him back.

I call upon the trustees of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra to reverse the decision they made in the spring of 2007 and return Mr. Laycock to his well-earned place as music director of the Princeton Symphony. It is very easy to have done the wrong thing, but it is just as easy to do what is right.

The Symphony’s musicians and its audiences eagerly await his return; all that the trustees need to do is act.

MARVIN HAROLD CHEITEN
Meadowbrook Drive

Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance Looks Back on Accomplishments, and Ahead

To the Editor:

The Board of Trustees of the West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance (WWBPA) thanks our membership for supporting our mission to promote safe bicycling and walking in our town and in the local region. WWBPA membership more than doubled this year to 240 members. This increase, we believe, reflects both the progress we have made in pursuing our mission and the pressing need for further improvement in bicycle and pedestrian mobility.

One of our most significant accomplishments for the year was the publication of the first bicycle and pedestrian map of our township. This bilingual map, showing walking and bicycling routes in town, is available in both print and online versions. With the help of our membership, we led three educational walks to highlight dangerous areas for pedestrians and bicyclists: Canal Pointe Boulevard in the vicinity of Meadow Road, the intersection of Cranbury-Wallace Road and Route 571, and the pedestrian non-friendly area around Grovers Mill Pond.

Our recommendations from these walks have sparked action from local governments. The state has agreed to make significant improvements to the Cranbury-Wallace Road and Route 571 intersection, including installation of crosswalks and pedestrian-activated traffic lights; the township has adopted our proposal to put Canal Pointe Boulevard on a road diet, decreasing travel lanes, adding bike lanes, and installing safe crosswalks along this busy road; and the county has painted crosswalks along Cranbury Road and Clarksville Road at Norchester Drive, and is considering what can be done to improve pedestrian safety on these roads.

We look forward to building our membership in 2008 and involving members in events aimed at improving conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians in our community, and in achieving our primary goals of education and enforcement. To become a member and/or to learn more about our organization, please visit our Web site at www.princetononline.org/wwbpa or attend our annual meeting on February 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Senior Center in the West Windsor Municipal Center at North Post and Clarksville Roads.

KEN CARLSON
President
West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance

For information on how to submit Letters to the Editor, click here.

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