The Princeton Regional Schools Board of Education was scheduled to meet in open session last night, Tuesday, June 20, at 8 p.m. (after Town Topics press time), in the cafeteria of the John Witherspoon Middle School.
According to an agenda circulated in advance of the meeting, the District has selected KSS Architects, LLP to "prepare design and financial planning services for the Valley Road/Witherspoon Street building, for an amount not to exceed $58,500."
A press release from the Superintendent's office on the selection of the architects was not available at the time of writing, but was due to be distributed at the meeting. An update will be forthcoming in the June 28 issue of Town Topics.
Established in 1983, KSS Architects is located on Witherspoon Street. Its principal architect is Sheila Spriggs Nall and its partners are Allan Kehrt, Michael Shatken, Pamela Lucas Rew, Edmund Klimek, and David Zaiser. Its clients include many academic institutions including Princeton, Rutgers, Bryn Mawr, the Institute for Advanced Study, and others.
Named AIA NJ Firm of the Year in 2005 by the American Institute of Architects, KSS won a merit award for The Cranbury School in that same year. Its projects include the Princeton Township Municipal Building.
In April, the District sought proposals from private developers for a study of low-cost improvements and revenue-generating possibilities for its Valley Road building. At that time, the board called for experienced design and financial services firms to submit an analysis of current and potential uses for the building by the deadline of Wednesday, May 17.
Three proposals were received: from Hillier Architecture, KKS Architects, and SSP Architectural Group.
Guidelines for the proposals pointed out that the District intended to maintain ownership of the Valley Road property, of which it is the sole owner. The District's "Request for Proposals for Architectural Planning and Development Services" reported that the building, in its current state, "is not used optimally by the District or community." The document stated that "in the financial environment in which New Jersey public schools find themselves, the District must continue to take responsibility for using its resources as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible."
The document suggested at least three scenarios of use options be developed with financial plans that attempt to maximize revenue and optimize use in the interest of improvement of the condition of the facility at minimum cost to the District and the taxpayers.
In addition, proposals were to take into account the interests of the community in the use and development of the property; current use as well as potential use for sports, shops, or other needs in relation to the District's demographics.
Currently, the Valley Road building houses offices of the Superintendent of Schools, as well as offices for Curriculum and Instruction, Human Resources, Student Services, Business, Facilities, and Transportation. In addition to Board meeting and reception rooms, the building accommodates a printing room, a maintenance workshop, buses and facilities vehicles and equipment parking, bus driver accommodations, garage, mailroom, warehouse and other storage, as well as educational programs.
According to the District's "Long Range Facilities Plan 2005-2010," the rehabilitation of the Valley Road building, if projected plans are put into effect, would cost in the region of $7.5 million and is scheduled for completion in 2009.
Two newly elected student board members were due to debut on the board: Lucy Breidenthal and Joseph Carroll, both rising seniors at Princeton High School.
The Board was also scheduled to hear from representatives of the Princeton Education Foundation about its Take a Seat campaign (see story in Other News) and the contributions made toward upgrades to the new Princeton Performing Arts Center at the high school.
Last night's meeting was the last of the 2005-06 school year.
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