Voters in Princeton will be asked next month to weigh in on $10.9 million in proposed projects for the Princeton Public Schools.
The special referendum for school facilities funding will be held Sept. 24, which is a Monday.
“Believe it or not, it’s been 11 years since the last referendum for the public schools and that was to add space,” Superintendent of Schools Judith Wilson told Township officials Monday night. “This referendum is not about any new construction at all. It is about stewardship of assets, efficiency, and instructional spaces.”
The $10.9 million bond would be paid back over 10 years. According to district officials, the average Princeton homeowner would pay an additional $150 a year in taxes for the projects if the referendum is approved.
At Princeton High, the track, turf and bleachers would be replaced and practice fields would be refurbished. Locker rooms would also be upgraded, energy efficient lighting would be installed in the gym, and a wheelchair accessible ramp would be added to the school. Classroom renovations would create more instructional space. So far 375 incoming freshmen have registered for the fall. Wilson said that is well above the 340 officials thought was the peak three years ago.
“Improvements to the high school’s athletic facilities have not been made in more than a decade,” Wilson said. “The turf is beyond its shelf life…replacing the turf and the track will prevent their closure.”
The old gym at John Witherspoon Middle School would be turned into a media center. New auditorium seating, sound and lighting systems would be added to the school, and air-conditioning would be added to second floor classrooms. “A media center is something the school is truly lacking,” she said.
Windows would be replaced at the middle school and high school, doors would be replaced in several schools, some roofs would be replaced,
drainage would be improved on some school properties, and some paved areas would be reconditioned.
“It’s a pretty wide range of projects,” Wilson said. “All the projects will have at least a 10-year life expectancy.”
Wilson said the school board facilities committee worked on developing the referendum question for two years. She said the timing is right for borrowing money right now because interest rates are only 2.5 percent. “Construction rates and bids are still coming in at a very low rate,” she said.
The work would be completed in 18 months, with some projects beginning as early as November. Wilson asked Township officials to encourage people to get out and vote.