Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 25
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
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District Board of Education Lauds Retirees, Programs, PHS Scholars

Linda Arntzenius

Princeton Regional Board of Education held a special meeting on Tuesday, June 12, in the John Witherspoon Middle School.

Among items on the agenda was the appointment of two new student representatives from the high school for the 2007-08 school year. Nakita Raghunath and Clayton Spann will replace last year's student board members Lucy Breidenthal and Joseph Carroll, who graduate today.

The board announced the retirements of 12 district employees, including Assistant Superintendent of Schools for Curriculum and Instruction Jeffrey Grabar after eight years with the district (see story on page 9).

"Long serving staff are the strength and the mainstay of our district," said Mr. Spear, expressing gratitude for many years of service to Mary Ann Brungart for 21 years with the district; Adrienne Cohen for 14 years; Jean Joseph for 5 years; Harry Lombardozzi for 20 years; Lucy Pesce for 40 years; Judith Schoenstein for 35 years; Maureen Shea for 37 years; Constance Turpin for 19 years; Mark Volpe for 15 years; Ethel Wood for 23 years; and Judith Zwaaf for 41 years.

The board also recognized students involved in two programs that support minority education and students who are the first of their families to undertake higher education: the W.E.B.Dubois Scholars Institute and the Generation One Program.

W.E.B. Dubois Institute

"This program has made a difference," said John Middle School Principal William Johnson introducing student participants who described their experiences in the summer program held at Princeton University and offering six weeks of campus residency together with college level instruction.

Program graduates Pinto Adhola and Joshua Blunt described the program's impact, as did PHS graduating seniors Victoria Plummer and Brandi Best, and 10th grader Moriah Akrong. Aisha Cason, also in 10th grade, spoke about her excitement at the prospect of attending the program this summer.

Most of the students focused on the intensity of the academically challenging program, which had inspired one of them to consider attending an all-black college.

Named for famed activist, educator, and scholar William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963), the W.E.B. DuBois Scholars Institute was founded in 1988 to develop young scholars committed to eliminating poverty and racism. The program hopes to inspire predominantly African-American and Latino- American communities.

Founder and Executive Director Sherle L. Boone addressed the board on behalf of summer institute, in which four district students will participate this summer.

Shirley Satterfield, who has been involved with the program since its inception, praised Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey Graber for nurturing it. "When I retired, Jeff Graber kept it alive," she said.

Chair of the Program Committee JoAnn Cunningham announced the creation of a scholarship in Mr. Graber's honor for PHS students who attend the program in the future.

Generation One

The Generation One after-school education program saw its first crop of graduates this year: Helen Lopez, Julio Lopez, Gaby Cifuentes, Justin Morton, Javier Quiej, Aroldo Rodas, Talib Cason, Ralph Nelson, Merle Redding, and Mark Baldino.

The ten students, who graduate from Princeton High School today, successfully complete the program, a collaborative effort of Princeton University, the district's guidance department and Minority Education Committee, and Peterson's college preparatory company.

Now in its fourth year, the program is aimed at guiding students who would be the first in their family to pursue secondary education. A new batch of 8th graders is now being recruited to take part in summer camps and tutoring as well as weekly sessions during the school year, and to be guided through SAT prep courses, college visits, and the application process for four-year colleges, including Ivy League institutions like Princeton, or alternative institutions, such as trade or vocational schools.

Angela Siso, supervisor of student activities and a program advisor, described the group of students as diverse in gender and ethnicity. She said the program had exceeded its goal of preparing them for college and had become like an extended family network.

Ongoing Work

In her report to the board, Superintendent of Schools Judith A. Wilson described expanded summer programming this year, including enrichment opportunities in pottery, jazz, technical support for the new Princeton Performing Arts Center, and Mandarin language. "We don't wind down in the summer," said Ms. Wilson. "In fact we have set up a tax force headed by Mia Cahill to look at this year's programming and make recommendations for multiplying opportunities next summer."

With its new chairperson, Joshua Leinsdorf, and members Dorothy Bedford, Rebecca Cox, and Alan Hegedus, the Finance Committee met Monday, June 11.

Mr. Leinsdorf reported that one of their first tasks had been to look for budget savings. Committee members had examined the district's per pupil which are higher compared to other school districts. They had discovered that the costs of educating special needs children in an autism program had been counted in the tally of per pupil costs. Mr. Leinsdorf pointed out that if the children in the program had been sent out of district, while the overall cost to the district would have been higher, the per pupil costs would have been lower, given current accounting practices.

Mr. Leinsdorf said that a major task of the Finance Committee would be to examine such anomalies and "do a better job" of explaining cost comparisons.

The Finance Committee, which typically meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 4 p.m., reviews staff association contracts, reviews and approves finance-related policies, and identifies areas in the budget and implements policies that over time will result in significant savings, efficiencies, and productivity.

Alan Hegedus, chair of the Facilities Committee, reported a mid-August date as the goal for completion of all work at the high school. Besides Mr. Hegedus, committee members are Dorothy Bedford, Mia Cahill, and Michael Mostoller. They typically meet on the third Tuesday of each month with a closed session from 9 a.m. and a public session from 10:30 a.m.

Chaired by Jeffrey Spear, the Personnel Committee typically meets on the third Monday of each month at 8:45 a.m. The meetings are closed to the public. Besides Mr. Spear, committee members are Mia Cahill, Rebecca Cox, and JoAnn Cunningham. Ms. Cunningham also chairs the Program Committee whose members are Walter Bliss, Michael Mostoller, and Jeffrey Spear. The Program Committee typically meets the second Friday of each month at 2 p.m.

Schedules for Board of Education meetings are posted weekly on the PRS website at

The board was scheduled to meet again last night June 18, at 8 p.m. in the Valley Road Administration Building (after Town Topics press time).

A Facilities/Finance Workshop will be held on Wednesday, July 11, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and a Personnel/Program Workshop on Wednesday, July 25, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., both workshops in the Valley Road Administration Building. The purpose of the workshops, which are both open to the public, is to discuss committee goals for the 2007-08 school year.

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