February 8, 2017

Some Unanswered Questions About PPS Resistance to Charter School Expansion

To the Editor:

Recent letters and emails cite “facts” yet when you look at different sources these “qualified” figures often vary greatly. Recent Niche K-12 rating has Princeton district as #1 in New Jersey with student/teacher ratio of 11:1 and expenses per student of $24,209 yet the superintendent quotes hypothetical increases of up to 29 kids per class in first grade if the expansion is allowed and a “weighted” per student cost of $17,373. Really? Again we are being told if expansion at the Charter School is allowed “the children will suffer with loss of programs, trips, and higher class sizes” No doubt these threats will be presented again as they always are when the district asks voters to approve an expansion of their own or their yearly budget.

What is lacking are answers to many unasked questions such as: are we educating students that we are not required by law to educate and if so how many and at what levels?

Are we making the best use of current facilities and staff?

Have we corrected the problems relating to oversight when it comes to facility management? How? (Millions of dollars have been squandered through mismanagement in the past).

Are we taking full advantage of other area resources?

Are we legally required to teach at pre-K level?

How many students do not legally reside in the school district and at what schools and grades are they attending? (This would obviously include illegal immigrants, children of staff members, as well as those who may be using a relative’s address to attend school here while actually living elsewhere).

In the case of staff members, are we as a district being reimbursed money by those sending districts similar to state choice program? How many students are sent from other districts due to special programs we have and at what cost vs. payments received? If overcrowding is of greatest concern at the high school level, why do we continue to accept Cranbury as a sending district and why are we not encouraging more students to take advantage of the County Vo Tech programs? (Some offer college credit courses yet we have very few kids taking advantage of these programs as compared to other districts.) With so many advanced PHS students graduating and attending Princeton University, perhaps some of those should be attending higher level courses there vs. PHS.

I supported the last referendum despite reservations. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have. Not only were there some serious maintenance concerns not addressed (i.e. flooding of PAC), assurances of program support were untrue as the loss of JW’s old gym has had tremendous negative impact upon programs during, before, and after school at both JW and PHS. When it comes to supporting the district’s objection to PCS, tricked me once…

Kenneth Verbeyst

Princetonian, Caldwell Drive