January 29, 2020

Asking Questions Not Answered At School Expansion Presentation

To the Editor:

The PHS cafeteria was packed. The 90-minute presentation by the BoE’s consultants, MacBroom & Milone (M&M), focused specifically on establishing a need for school expansion. Other questions on the public’s mind — exactly how and where to expand, the cost, staff cuts, Westminster, any future referendum — were not addressed.

The breakout did not allow for open consideration of alternatives to expansion. It included no formal public discussion. We could only ask a few questions of individual consultants or write questions on stickies, postcards, and easels.

Afterward, a handful of participants gathered to tour PHS. As in the pre-referendum tours, we saw improvements currently planned for the library, guidance, the gym, overall lighting, etc., and the luxuries already in place: the PAC’s spectacular entry hall, black box theater with wall-size mirror and wood flooring for dance classes, the auditorium big enough to hold half the student body but used by the school only several times a year, e.g., for musicals, and otherwise booked privately a year in advance. Throughout the morning there was no discussion of education, equity, staffing, or curriculum, only buildings.

Will M&M’s upcoming small group meetings encourage the open discussion not allowed in regular BoE meetings? The high attendance and the unanswered questions show the level of unmet voter concern. The consultant dismissed the possibility of adding classrooms to the elementary schools, and the most frequent question went unanswered: If we are already overcrowded, why must we keep Cranbury?

My purpose here is to ask questions that have been asked but not answered. Transparency is possible only when questions are asked openly, and answered to general satisfaction.

Mary Clurman
Harris Road