Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 18
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
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Princetons Approve New School Budget; Quinn, Haughton and Shamsi on Board

Ellen Gilbert

In an election last week, Borough and Township voters approved the Princeton Regional School’s (PRS) proposed operating budget of $73,830,765 for 2011-12.

The amount marks a 1.98 percent increase over last year’s budget and, because the budget is supported primarily by local taxes, it means that there will be a need to raise the tax levy, “even though,” PRS’s website summary of the budget notes, “a conservative budget is proposed.” See

Unofficial election results indicated that 308 Borough residents supported the budget, while 115 voted against it. In the Township there were, unofficially, 870 votes for the budget, and 227 against.

In the Township, the new budget will generate an estimated tax increase of $103. In the Borough, the tax increase will be approximately $98. The average assessed value of homes in the Princetons dropped below the 2010 average, with the average assessed value of a Borough home now at $747,795, and Township homes averaging $827,065.

Two School Board members who ran unopposed, Tim Quinn of the Borough and Township resident Dan Haughton were re-elected to second terms. The Township also elected Afsheen Shamsi, who also ran unopposed, to fill the seat being vacated by three-term Board member Walter Bliss.

“It has been a very satisfying experience, one that I would strongly recommend to others,” said Mr. Bliss of his nine years on the Board. “We are blessed in Princeton with a uniquely talented and conscientious Board of Education; and our superintendent and her leadership team are without equal, I am certain of it.”

“The future focus of the Board,” added Mr. Bliss, should include “refusal to settle for the status quo and continued emphasis on helping all students succeed — accepting nothing less. I take particular pride in Princeton’s commitment to ensuring that every child read proficiently by no later than third grade.”

“I’m grateful to Borough voters for giving me three more years to reflect their values in public education,” commented Mr. Quinn, who received 293 votes at last count. “The voters sent a clear message on April 27 that they support strong public schools and it is an honor to serve in a town where the commitment is so strong,” added Mr. Quinn, who is currently vice-president of the school board.

“During my first term, I worked to ensure that our district was closing longtime gaps in achievement between groups of students and that we were reversing the disproportional representation of African-Americans and Latinos in special education,” noted Mr. Quinn. “I’m happy to report that we have consecutive years of progress to report in both areas. It’s a long process requiring constant diligence, but I’m confident we will make progress in these areas.”

Ms. Shamsi, who unofficially received 754 votes supporting her candidacy, has a son who attends a district school. She is CEO of Philanthropia Consulting, a firm that “focuses on helping non-profits with fundraising and board development,” and is a member of the Princeton Human Services Commission. She was also recently elected to the Board of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization.

“The past three years have been among the most difficult financially in the history of our district,” observed Mr. Haughton. “We must find new and innovative ways to save money and increase non-tax generated revenues while continuing to offer academic excellence at all levels that is second to none. Our students deserve it and our taxpayers demand it.” Mr. Haughton, who is currently serving on the Board’s Finance Committee and is liaison to the Johnson Park School’s PTO, received 846 votes.

Mr. Quinn expressed similar sentiments. “The board must continue to seek greater efficiencies whenever possible and to cultivate sources other than tax dollars to support our efforts.” He identified “overcrowding in sections of core courses at Princeton High School” and a need to bring technology up to speed in the district as other concerns requiring immediate attention. “I want to ensure that the Princeton High School my son will enter in September is the same Princeton High School where so many of his neighbors have enjoyed such success and that the high school continues to be among the best in the nation for years to come.”

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