Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 30
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
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School District and PRESSA Reach Agreement; Board Hopes for Passage of Financial “Tool Kit”

Ellen Gilbert

At its monthly meeting last week, the Princeton Regional Board of Education unanimously approved a two-year contract agreement with the Princeton Regional Educational Support Staff Association (PRESSA). Superintendent Judy Wilson complimented the “fair, reasonable, good bargaining” that took place in coming to the agreement.

Terms of the contract include a raise of 1.5 percent and an average of $750 per PRESSA staff member in the first year and 2 percent in the second year of the contract. With cost sharing and savings, the cost to the Board is 1.87 percent in the first year and 2 percent in the second year.

Members of PRESSA, which includes secretaries, maintenance and custodial staff, instructional assistants, and other “ancillary support staff” had already ratified the agreement, which will retroactively take effect as of July 1, 2010, and run through June 30, 2012.

Ms. Wilson acknowledged the “leadership and service” of negotiator Lew Goldstein, PRS’s assistant superintendent for human resources, who worked with PRESSA UniServe Representative Pat Korp over several months to craft the agreement.

The district is “still hard at work on school matters, even though the children are off for the summer,” observed Board of Education President Rebecca Cox.

“It has been a busy three-and-half-weeks since high school graduation,” added Superintendent Judy Wilson. “The press has been extremely busy covering public education issues at the state and local level. If you’re reading the paper, you’re reading about the Princeton Regional Schools.”

Among the state-level concerns being watched by Ms. Wilson and the board is the hoped-for passage of a “tool kit” consisting of 32 proposals that will give boards of education “more latitude” and suggestions for “efficiencies and cost-saving” to offset the two-percent cap that will be imposed on municipal budgets in 2011. Ms. Wilson said she hoped that the legislature would move on the proposal before breaking for summer recess.

“We’re being very aggressive about finding revenue sources,” observed Ms. Wilson in her report. Some “great news” came in the form of a $47,000 grant from the Japan Foundation initiated by world language supervisor Priscilla Russel. And, Ms. Wilson added, a $3,500 check from Princeton University, which, she said, periodically “asks what the district needs,” will support the purchase of digital and flip cameras.

Ms. Wilson described the retirement of Linda Shaw, who has been with the district for 31 years, most recently as a Supervisor of Visual and Performing Arts, as “bittersweet.”

In a report for absent Finance Committee Chair Charles Kalmbach, Dan Haughton noted that the district can, at this point, anticipate a $3.2 million shortfall in next year’s budget.

The Minority Education Committee is making programming plans to include pot luck dinners and other events that will target different age levels in district schools, according to liaison Dorothy Bedford.

In the wake of the postponed opening of the Princeton International Academy Charter School, Ms. Wilson noted that “we’re delighted to welcome back” the 17 district students in grades K through two who had enrolled in the new school.

A highlight of the Board’s August 31st meeting will be a “final proposal” of plans for the old section of the Valley Road Building.

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