Princeton School Board: Valley Road Improvements Would Be Too Expensive

The Valley Road School will not be renovated to accommodate students because it would cost too much to make the necessary improvements to the building, officials said Tuesday night.

Last month the school board voted to pay the Spiezle Architectural Group $18,400 to look at the feasibility of adapting the newer portion of the building and turning it back into a school. But the move would cost a few million dollars.

The plan was relocate the district’s administrative offices t0 the Princeton Packet building on Witherspoon Street. The district has been exploring leasing space from the new owner of the Packet building.

The school board on Tuesday night voted to hire Spiezle to conduct another study — a capacity study to see how existing school spaces within the district can best be used.

“We are taking a look at space in all the elementary schools to see what spaces can be re-purposed for classroom space,” Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane said.

The school board also approved a demographics study on Tuesday night to look at possible student enrollment trends. AvalonBay has not produced the numbers we thought it might,” Cochrane said of the new 280-unit apartment development. “We will have more information come February.”

Cochrane said school officials have reached out to Westminster Choir College to see whether it might be possible for the district to lease space there. Rider University officials have not yet decided whether to move the choir college to the main Lawrence campus. The trustees at Rider will make a decision by February. Rider is considering consolidating to save money and reduce the university’s deficit.



  1. If the district is full enough to be looking at leasing or renovating space, why the staunch opposition to a Charter expansion that would relieve the overcrowding?

    1. Because opposition to the Charter School has been–and, apparently, always will be–a knee-jerk reaction in this town no matter how many times you explain how cost efficient it really
      is. (But thanks for trying, Liz.)

      1. No. And there are mixed feelings (and I wouldn’t pretend to have those numbers) on what kind of cost savings to the district it might bring. But as of now, PPS is looking all over the place for space – plus they keep a 10% holdback for each kid who goes to PCS – so it’s hard to understand the vitriolic reaction to expansion, when honestly PPS needs all the help it can get vis-a-vis overcrowding.

        1. pretty clear that there would be no cost savings to the district – see PPS Board of Ed minutes from 12/13

          1. I watched the video and saw all of the fuzzy math presented by Julia Sass Rubin that was demonstrably false. I don’t want to spam PP’s comments section with my own calculations (they’re long in order to be clear about the steps taken to get the result), but they’re taken right from PPS’s audited financial statements and are set to Public on my Facebook page.

  2. Hmmm. A back door into the PCS debate. Ms. Knapp shut it down. It was getting ugly.

    The observation I wanted to add is that I’m always amazed that people are quick to make comments without knowing the relevant facts.

    It reminds me of the wonderful SNL bit where Bill Murray played the movie critic who hadn’t gotten around to seeing any of the movies he reviewed. Notwithstanding, he offered his opinion.

    Here’s mine on the Valley Road Building. The space is pre-historic. I think I saw a picture of John Glenn and Friendship 7 there. It’s their most recent wall hanging.

    Those folks work very hard and do a good job. It’s time to renovate; to make a more copacetic and efficient space.

  3. At the Board of Education Meeting on Dec 13, 2016, Dr Julia Sass Rubin and Superintendent Steve Cochrane both gave informative fact-based presentations/talks that dispel two big untruths that PCS is trying to promote in support of its expansion: that it will alleviate crowding at PPS (IT WON’T) and that they educate students in a more cost efficient manner (THEY DON’T).

    Please watch for yourself:

    Dr Rubin’s presentation starts at about 33:50 mark and Mr Cochrane’s talk starts at about 1:01:30.

  4. With or without charters, our District already has enough square footage to educate all Princeton students. Lacking are: 1) thoughtful, creative use of resources & space, 2) appropriate use of new technologies to increase efficiency/economy 3) good decision-making, & 4) wise stewardship. Wise stewardship includes the use of innovations that will ensure sustainability. Good teachers are the foundation & the wellspring for success, in every educational system. Children learning today in third world conditions have exceeded the academic achievements of our students. It’s not about the learning space, it’s about what happens in it. Taxpayers have given enough to our District in good faith and now deserve better.

  5. Do either of them present creative ways that existing PPS space can be used, or do they settle for vilifying those who engage in Doublethink?

    P.S. – if JSR would provide her actual working papers so anyone could replicate her calculations – the basest level of advanced scholarship, AFAIK – I would be far less cynical about her claims. But thus far, she has not, all the while enrolling her own child in PCS while building a group to smear charters. If I weren’t such a true believer in human motivation, this would smack of abject careerism without a damn of a care toward the kids involved. If I believed in less than human goodness.

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