The local school board has rejected proposals by two groups for the old Valley Road School site and informed officials and a nonprofit group of its decision in a letter last week.
After studying the future of the Valley Road site in depth, consulting with lawyers and debating the issue for months, the school board rejected both proposals that were made to the board, saying neither of them met the board’s criteria for the use of the site. The board also wants to wait until after the vote on consolidation to make a decision on how best to use the site.
“As you know, many Boards have addressed the use of this building and site for decades and this current board has devoted hundreds of hours to determining what option best serves the district, the taxpayers and the greater community good,” reads the Sept. 21 letter signed by Superintendent of Schools Judith Wilson and School Board President Rebecca Cox. “In exercising its own due diligence, the board consulted with a number of experts, including lawyers, architects, structural engineers, township engineers and zoning experts to arrive at its decision…While the Board appreciates all the hard work and enthusiasm that went into the proposals, neither proposal fully met the board’s established criteria.”
Since the beginning of the process over a year ago, school officials argue that issues have arisen that would affect the future disposition of the site.
“Most significantly, it is clear to the board that the outcome of the community’s vote on the consolidation question in November will be of import to any determination that the board will make,” the letter reads. “Finally, we must be certain that we have exhausted all possibilities for use of the site that tie closely to our core mission of education. All of these considerations are fundamental to our duty to be the best possible stewards of the taxpayer’s investments in school district assets.”
The board will revisit the issue at the end of the school year.
“We realize that this will not please either set of constituents but we also know that everyone will appreciate the standards and principles to which we must adhere,” reads the letter.
Both Corner House and Princeton Community Television are housed at the old Valley Road School site. A deadline was set for the non-profits to move out by Sept. 30, but that deadline has been extended for both until June 30.
The borough and township have proposed that the school building be demolished. The neighboring firehouse would be expanded, and a new building would be built to house the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. Corner house would possibly be relocated in that building or moved to Borough Hall if consolidation passes.
A second proposal from residents calls for the building to remain. The Valley Road School-Adaptive Reuse Committee, a citizen group that has also formed a nonprofit to raise money, wants to create a community center at the site that would house various nonprofits with an education mission.