July 11, 2018

Speaking for Members of Community Concerned That Planning for Schools Project Has Not Been Transparent

To the Editor:

On June 26 School Superintendent Cochrane addressed the Princeton Civil Rights Commission. It was a rare public opportunity for Princeton residents to speak directly with him. Many people expressed their concerns about the proposed $130M referendum, scheduled to be voted on October 2, rather than on Election Day, November 6.

Princeton High School students have, on their own, conducted a survey of 491 of their peers to determine the most important needs at PHS. They say the most pressing need is improvements in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Many are concerned about mice in the building — indicating maintenance problems. Many want improvements in school security. They expressed concern with over-crowding — more so in hallways, stairwells, and the cafeteria, than in classrooms. Kudos to the students for compiling the only published survey of user preferences I’ve encountered since public conversations began regarding the referendum.

Experienced members of our community — teachers, educators, architects, planners, people in finance, PHS grads — are concerned that planning for the schools project has not been transparent and has been presented as a done deal from Day 1, rather than as a public process involving stakeholders — students, parents, teachers, community residents. Many are concerned that it is not clear what this enormous project even consists of: what the project goals are, and how the proposed improvements will achieve those goals.

Many people are concerned that the tax effects of the enormous cost of the physical improvements, combined with as-yet unknown and unexplained increased operating costs, will drive middle income and lower income residents from our town, changing our town’s character forever.

We all love our schools and our children, and we want to provide for them. Let’s take time to better understand what is being proposed and why. Unless and until we understand what is being proposed, this project should not move forward.

Deborah Dorman

A PPS Mom, Proud of Her Three Strong Daughters

Who Graduated PHS, Shadybrook Lane