Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 31
 
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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Board Approves On-Site Workshops; Tables Vote on Dues to State Group

Ellen Gilbert

At its Wednesday evening meeting, the Princeton Regional Board of Education approved the appointment of Tri-State Consortium, Inc. to provide staff workshops on “using student performance data to develop a rigorous framework for systemic planning, assessment, accreditation, and continuous improvement.” The New Canaan, Connecticut-based firm will receive up to $12,000 for the workshops.

“We are very excited about our Tri-State participation,” said Superintendent Judy Wilson. This is the second year that the Princeton school district has been a member of the consortium, but this will be the first time that workshops are to be held on-site. Ms. Wilson described the training as “top quality,” and other members of the group as “high performing districts.”

The Tri-State Consortium’s website observes that “As critical friends, we advance teaching and learning and share best practices among member districts through the application of the Tri-State assessment model.” Ms. Wilson noted that Tri-State training will supersede the Middle States accreditation process the district has followed in the past. Board President Alan Hegedus echoed Ms. Wilson’s enthusiasm in having “gotten to this point” of achieving membership in the consortium.

It was unusual for the Board to meet in July, and the brief public portion of the evening, which took place at the Valley Road School, was largely devoted to blanket approvals of bids for copier paper and the like. Several members took the opportunity to comment on the remarkably smooth handling of the transition from outdoors to indoors when rain interrupted the high school graduation. Ms. Wilson also commented on the recent death of Community Park custodian supervisor William (“Bud”) Hussey, who died on June 28. Describing his death as “a huge loss,” Mr. Wilson said that a “Mr. Bud Day” was held each year at CP, where he worked for 19 years. “He knew every child’s name,” she said. “The word ‘community’ doesn’t just apply to the name of the school in this instance.”

Vote Tabled

In the absence of Rebecca Cox, the member who represents the board at the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), a vote to approve payment of $28,000 in annual dues to the association was tabled until the board’s August meeting. Some preliminary discussion indicated that this will be a contentious issue, with board member Josh Leinsdorf saying that the dues should not be paid since the association “is not representing us.” He noted that the group’s delegate assemblies are poorly attended, and that they have not, to the best of his knowledge, ever supported a local school board resolution. Ms. Wilson expressed her belief that “to not be a member is to not have a voice.” While agreeing that NJSBA has “not been doing a good job,” Mr. Hegedus said that as “a leadership school district” that has tended to “isolate itself in recent years,” Princeton has “an obligation” to participate in such groups. The NJSBA mission statement describes itself as “a federation of district boards of education, [that] advocates, trains and provides resources for the advancement of public education in New Jersey.”

The next board meeting will be on Tuesday, August 26.

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