Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 9
 
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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Budget Discussions Occupy School Board; Next Year’s Calendar Not Yet Resolved

Ellen Gilbert

“We’re spending virtually all of our non-public board meeting time fashioning the budget,” observed School Superintendent Judy Wilson at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Princeton Regional Board of Education.

With significant pieces of information still missing, these deliberations are taking place in limbo. It is still unclear whether or not the district will receive any money as a result of the Federal stimulus package, and the governor is not scheduled to give his economic address until March 10. State appropriations, and their consequent impact on local taxes, will not be known for another week or two. With the budget due on March 18, Ms. Wilson noted, the district is operating on a very tight schedule. 

While the world listened to President Obama speak about plans for the nation’s economic crisis on Tuesday evening, the Board engaged in lengthy discussions regarding the 2009-2010 school year calendar and insurance coverage during PTO events. Unable to resolve either issue, the Board tabled them for reconsideration at its March 17 meeting.

Calendar concerns revolve around the fact that Labor Day falls on September 7 this year. Under the usual formula, this would make the first day of school September 10, with an ending date of June 21 (subject to snow days). As days grow hotter the absence of air conditioning in the district’s K-8 buildings raises health concerns, and the traditional beginning of summer programs on or around June 20 creates potential conflicts for students. Representatives of the Princeton Regional Education Association expressed concern about Ms. Wilson’s suggestion that school begin on September 8, saying that a four-day week for students just returning from summer schedules and later bedtimes would be difficult. A revised schedule will involve reassigning staff development days.

The meeting included additional presentations from Principal William Johnson and teachers Lynne Harkness, Brian Dzbenski, Joann Pica, and Amy Wargo on the physical education and health programs at John Witherspoon Middle School, and another, by Steve Carson and Liz Cutler, on incorporating sustainability into the schools.

The Board’s March 17 meeting will be held at the Valley Road Administration Building at 7 p.m.

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