October 7, 2020

Respectfully Disagreeing With Argument For New Princeton High Restroom Facility

To the Editor:

I sincerely respect the research and passion of the young PHS graduates that submitted their letter (”Current and Former PHS Students and Athletes Express Support for Restroom Facility, Mailbox, September 30).

I enjoyed sports at PHS/college, too bad there is so much deferred maintenance. We had mold when I was at PHS in the last century. There is a new facility team in place, hopefully mold will finally become history.

I must respectfully disagree with their argument for half-million-dollar bathrooms on the PHS football field.

I see the spending of over a half a million dollars as another example of not prioritizing operating funds and of wasteful spending. Given the district’s limited funds, time sensitivities, and politics overall, I feel spending such a large amount of the budget sends the wrong message to students, staff, and the community. 

The $2.9 million surplus, half of which are savings collected due to the pandemic, should be used for the expenses listed below, or given as tax relief to Princetonians whose finances have been devastated by the pandemic. The state’s uncertain economic situation could mean less funding in the future for public schools, and then, with this type of uncontrolled spending by the Board, all contributing factors can be very harmful to property values and cause our most vulnerable citizens to leave. 

For the reasons stated above, I see the spending of over $500,000 on items such as bathrooms as an extravagant want, not an urgent need. 

Some citizens claim building $500,000 bathrooms on the PHS field as an equity issue. I respectfully disagree again.

One reason being that male and female restrooms are located within close proximity to all students during gym classes. I do not see an undue hardship placed on students for the need to construct a new facility.   

There are, however, some ongoing expenses or programs that could have benefited from these funds. Some of these include ionization filters, complete overhaul of the faulty HVAC system, training long-term substitutes on technical instruction, overtime for janitors going above and beyond to provide thorough sanitation of facilities, and we still have to see if the current $27 million referendum will go over budget.

Regarding the HVAC system specifically, we still have 20 years of deferred maintenance owed, as well as ongoing expenses that might be pushing approximately $1 million. It is for these reasons and others that the Board of Education needs leadership that will strive to get our spending under control and start spending within our means, instead of resorting to referendum after referendum and increasing our debt.

Adam Bierman
Grover Avenue

The writer is a candidate for the Princeton Board of Education