Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 22
 
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
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School Board Approves Pay Hikes

Ellen Gilbert

The Princeton Regional School Board ratified the proposed terms of a 2008-2011 collective bargaining agreement with the Princeton Regional Education Association (PREA) by a unanimous vote at its meeting last Tuesday. The PREA had ratified the terms of the settlement earlier in the day.

According to the terms of the three-year contract, Princeton teachers will receive a 4.6 percent salary increase during its first year, a 4.6 percent increase the second year, and a 4.5 percent increase the third year. Board President Alan Hegedus described it as a “very fair and worthwhile contract” that reflects statewide averages. The cooperative efforts of both the Board and Association negotiating teams were acknowledged by representatives of both sides.

Other agenda items that evening included a presentation by Johnson Park (JP) Principal Bob Ginsberg and teachers Susan DeLia, Maureen Augustin, and Nancy Schreiber on the Positive Behavioral Support (PBSIS) initiative at JP. The goal of the program is to promote the inclusion of students with disabilities within general education settings. A video of a student “newscast” reporting on the project highlighted the presentation, and Mr. Ginsberg reported on the positive effects the program has had on all students. PBSIS is a partnership between the New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center at UMDNJ. It is funded through the New Jersey State Improvement Grant for Special Education.

Speaking for the personnel committee, Walter Bliss reported on the “very painful” decision at a recent residency hearing to require students who do not live in Princeton to pay to attend PRS schools. It is not enough for a parent to own property in the district, he said, noting that the cost for attending a Princeton school can be as high as $18,000 a year. In other personnel news, substitute teachers’ salaries, which have not changed in five years, were raised $10 a day, to $80, $90, or $95 a day, depending on an individual’s credentials. Substitute nurses received a salary boost from $100 to $150 a day.

The board’s approval of the recommendation of the superintendent and district wide search committee to appoint Angela Siso, currently the coordinator of student activities at PHS, as K-12 Supervisor of Guidance effective July 1, struck a positive note among those attending the meeting. Board member Dorothy Bedford offered particular words of praise for Ms. Siso’s work.

Board member Rebecca Cox reported that a recently passed bill in the State Assembly proposes to move school board elections to November, when they would coincide with general elections. Ms. Cox expressed concern that this might “politicize” the process, and encouraged people to attend, or send input to, the June 5 State Senate Education Committee meeting, when the bill will be reviewed.

Zampella Petition

The decision not to renew the contract of middle school teacher Ken Zampella was the subject of a petition presented to the board by PHS senior Drina Duryea. Speaking during the public forum part of the meeting, Ms. Duryea said that the 285 signatures on the petition were a reflection of students’ and parents’ high regard for Mr. Zampella, who has “given so much of himself to the community” as a teacher, coach, and band organizer at both the middle school and high school. She asked that the decision be reconsidered, or that a better explanation for not renewing Mr. Zampella’s contract be offered. Ms. Wilson expressed her appreciation of Ms. Duryea’s presentation, saying that the board understood her position but could not respond publicly on a personnel action.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be June 17 at 8 p.m. at John Witherspoon Middle School.

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