Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 22
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
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Wilson Urges Parents to Be Proactive; Search for New JW Principal Continues

Ellen Gilbert

“Don’t just read the headlines,” School Superintendent Judy Wilson counseled listeners at last week’s Board of Education meeting as she talked about proposed state legislation that will affect public education. “Contact your lawmakers.”

New state rules and regulations, she said, “have done very, very little over the last five years to promote anything that aligns with our values.” Currently under consideration are regulations that stand, she said, to impact everything from standards, contracts, and evaluation, to curriculum development. Of particular concern, Ms. Wilson noted, is a voucher bill that would enable students currently enrolled in public schools to leave to attend private schools. The New Jersey Education Association, representing the state’s public school teachers, has said that the bill would drain even more money from public schools in the wake of the recent $820 million state aid cut to school districts,

Ms. Wilson also reported on the search for a new principal of John Witherspoon Middle School (JW). Noting that although there has been “progress,” the board is “not at the point of making a decision.” Later in the meeting, JW Guidance Counsellor John Cronin described that community’s “increase in sadness, frustration, and huge disrespect that this process is dragging on and on and on. The process keeps changing,” he added, “distracting us from what we are supposed to be about.”

Mr. Cronin went on to describe an unnamed “candidate who stands head and shoulders above all the rest.” Noting that he has worked with her, Mr. Cronin said that she “is creative, innovative, and has our trust. Bringing in someone new would bring things to a standstill.”

Finance Committee Chair Charles Kalmbach cited, but did not elaborate on, an infusion of unexpected “extended aid from the state” that leaves the district in “a remarkable situation.” While discussions regarding benefits continue, Mr. Kalmbach reported that salaries are now “fully encumbered,” and he expected the fiscal year to “end in the black.”

Despite the unanticipated windfall, Mr. Kalmbach noted that the district would continue to seek other revenue sources and be mindful of rising costs. In addition to transportation allocations and tuition for special students to attend out-of-district schools, rising health care costs, the apportionment of the tax burden between the Borough and the Township, and per-student costs of regional charter schools are all being reviewed.

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