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District weighing options after Princeton Charter School expansion approved

Public schools officials in Princeton are weighing their options in the wake of the state’s approval of the expansion of the Princeton Charter School, the superintendent for the Princeton Public Schools said in a statement released by the district on March 2.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane called the approval a deeply disappointing decision that does not align with the expressed wishes of the Princeton community, and said the approval for the charter school to expand by 76 students would diminish the educational opportunities for the vast majority of students in Princeton. Public schools officials estimate that the expansion will cost the district about $1.18 million a year.

“As a public school district, we have the responsibility and the privilege to educate a wonderful diversity of nearly 3800 students. We remain concerned that this decision will affect our long-term ability to provide those students with the outstanding academic and co-curricular experiences they deserve,” Cochrane said in the written statement posted on the district’s website. “We remain concerned, as well, that the PCS application was designed without the input of our community and that its approval will effectively appropriate $1.2 million in taxes, every year, without any vote.”

Cochrane said because of those concerns he and the board are considering their options, including the right to appeal the state commissioner of education’s decision.

“Our goal will always be to do what is in the best interest of our students and of the broader Princeton community,” he said in the statement. “We are grateful to the many members of that community who joined our opposition to the PCS expansion and who recognize that a system of school choice that harms one group of children to help another is inherently unjust. We are also grateful to the many educators, parents, public officials and community partners who continue to support our desire to use our town’s limited tax dollars to provide the most innovative and effective education for all of our students. We ask the community to remain thoughtful, engaged and respectful as we find a way to move forward on behalf of the children we share.”

Leaders of the advocacy group Keep PPS Strong are saying the next governor should reverse the expansion and other expansion approvals and change the New Jersey charter school law. One leader of the group suggested that the Princeton Public Schools should refuse to pay the charter school.

“Princeton Public Schools receives less money from the state than we send to the very segregated Princeton Charter School,” reads the Facebook post. “If PPS refused to pay PCS, the state of NJ could withhold the state aid to our district, but the district would still be ahead financially. And in January, we’d have a new Governor who could reverse the expansion.”

The next governor will be under pressure to enforce the charter school law requirement that charter schools reflect their sending communities, wrote the leader of Keep PPS Strong on the group’s Facebook page. “Given the level of anger in this community at PCS, which will only intensify as more of our tax dollars are sent to that horribly segregated school, and our children are hurt because our public schools lose teachers and critically needed resources, we suspect PCS will be one of the first charter schools targeted for closure for its intense segregation,” reads the Facebook post.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • BlueBlazer

    I don’t have thousands of comments on PP, probably just a couple dozen or two. If you believe that I have been “working overtime” to insult you then it shouldn’t be that hard to locate all of these supposed insults. Your standard complaint about anonymity is really just a side step to excuse how you are behaving.

    I “know what I’ve posted” which is why I am calling out your false statements. I have not insulted you. My one “put a sock in it” comment was borderline rude, as I have said before. It was in response to your equally borderline rude comment.

    I don’t have any interest in meeting with you, but that’s nothing personal. I don’t owe you a meeting. I understand where you stand, and you understand where I stand. I do think you’ve dished out as much, if not more, hostility than you’ve complained of receiving.

  • Liz Winslow

    For someone in the shadows, you seem awfully worried about protecting the reputation of your anonymous internet handle. I’m not going to waste my time going through thousands of comments on the school issue on PP to defend myself. You know what you’ve posted, so please stop with the “gotcha” tactics. I extend the same invitation to you I have to everyone else – have a cup of coffee with me, where it’s a lot harder to be hostile face to face, and never will I reveal your true identity. Show some good faith and I’ll return it.

  • BlueBlazer

    You’re dodging.

    You said I resorted to “more insults” but when pressed on where all these insults I’ve used against are, your response was to state “good lord, I don’t have all night, but you’ve been working overtime on PP to that effect.”

    So, again, I ask where are these numerous insults I have been “working overtime” to throw at you?

  • Liz Winslow

    BlueBlazer, right here on this page you told me to put a sock in it. Please come down off your high horse and try to join the rest of us in a civil discussion.

  • BlueBlazer

    “Where you’ve insulted me? Good lord, I don’t have all night, but you’ve been working overtime on PP to that effect.”

    Please back up this statement or retract it.

  • BlueBlazer

    The centerpiece of the article is not starving PCS of funding. The centerpiece of the article is PRS considering all options. One FB post is mentioned for possible withholding funds. In my opionion PCS should be stripped of their carte blanche ability to formulate and pass decisions that impact tax funding and public education for our community.

    Please cite where I have been working “overtime” insulting you on this board.

  • Liz Winslow

    When one starts the conversation by accusing charter parents of “stealing,” it is difficult to continue in a calm, accepting culture. I have never portrayed PPS as a flop vs. PCS as a miracle: I’ve never said anything to the effect of “Sign up for PCS now, or you get the equivalent of Newark public schools” (btw, Newark has fabulous Charters). I reiterate, I’m very easy to find. So find me and let’s have a cup of coffee, as being this hostile to someone’s face is a mean feat. And we’ll talk, and maybe we’ll both learn something.

  • Liz Winslow

    You applauded “reigning” in PCS in any manner possible, in an article whose centerpiece was starving it of funding. There. Pointed to where you encouraged.

    Annoying? You don’t say. THAT is a two-way street.

    Where you’ve insulted me? Good lord, I don’t have all night, but you’ve been working overtime on PP to that effect.

    Why don’t you work on reign vs. rein vs. rain, and I’ll work on “putting a sock in it.” As for insulting me, are you familiar with the term “willfully obtuse,” or shall we have a separate grammar lesson there?

    Or is this too “mean-spirited?” Since, of course, PCS parents should lie down and be bulldozed by True Believer PPS parents.

  • Liz Winslow

    @Agnostic – it’s been 2 days now. I admitted that I relied upon APP which inexplicably had a bad pay rate for Patton, but was nonetheless wrong. I’ve shown good faith. Now, will you do the same by sharing the information you claim to have about how PCS will fail my special needs son in middle school? I mean, even if you don’t like me very much, if you truly believe that you wouldn’t withhold that information and hurt a child… would you?

    Alternately, as I’ve offered to other posters – I am not hard to find, and ewinslow@gmail.com is the quickest way to reach me. I’d be more than happy to have a cup of coffee with you and discuss in a non-hostile environment, and would not reveal the identity behind the handle if you took me up on it.

  • Liz Winslow

    BTW – only becaue you used it twice, so it’s obviously not an accident – the word you’re looking for is “rein.” A charter education might have helped with those pesky homophones.

  • Liz Winslow

    Hi Anne,

    Given all the rough feelings lately, I’m going to start by saying – I’m chiming in with totally civil intent, and happy to answer any civil questions you ask me.

    1) I continue to believe PCS will provide belief to PPS. Indeed, with the demographics on the horizon and the concurrent increase in ratables, any money “lost” to PCS quickly will be regained. Likewise, if PCS disappeared tomorrow, the district would get a pile of money, but it would also get 348 (next year 424) students to educate. I don’t want to get sidetracked by a discussion (as these always seem to turn nasty) about cost per student, but the general point is, this may well provide PPS some valuable time to figure out how to take on a big population influx. It is not insurmountable to consolidate a K or 1 classroom in the meantime and team-teach (which often is the approach at PCS). Truly, the extra year of planning ability could, if used wisely, save all Princeton taxpayers money.
    2) I don’t know who Milo mina is, though clearly he’s pro-PCS and I generally like him. However, as I said to him, the 3k number is an interesting data point, but not likely to be applicable in Princeton due to the number of students coming on line in the next year or two.
    3) I had to eat some crow on this lately as apparently Larry Patton (head of PCS) had his salary split between admin and teaching (he taught for a while while head of PCS), and APP captured only a portion. However, agreed he makes $163k. However, his responsibilities extend way beyond the PPS superintendents. Larry has no assistant superintendents of curriculum, special services, business managers, etc. It’s fundamentally him, the K-4 head of school (Gail Wilbur) and the 5-8 head of school (Lisa Eckstrom). That’s it. The most closely remunerated guy after that if memory serves is a very long-serving teacher who is beloved, and still makes a chunk less than the best-compensated PPS teacher. I say this not to stoke animosity, just to provide fact.

  • Anne R

    A main selling point of the PCS expansion proposal was Charter providing relief to increasing enrollment at PPS. Now you’re ascribing intent to PPS admin re – not wanting to lose 78 students because of a risk of enrollment decreasing below 3000. What’s the point of casting continued/new aspersions re – the expansion opposition? It’s a done deal now. Not to mention that the PCS Head gets an annual salary of $163,000 a year (or potentially more, that’s the amount included in the NJ Spotlight 2015-2016 database) for overseeing a “district” of 348 students.

  • BlueBlazer

    Incorrect. I did answer: “my desire to reign in PCS does not equate breaking the law, “starving” 400 kids, or the rest of your hyperbole.”

    Point to where exactly I “encourage breaking the law and denying funding to an entire school.” That you responded twice in this manner is bewildering and frankly, annoying.

    And just to clarify your “you just resorted to more insults” comment. When have I insulted you in our past interactions? My use of “put a sock in it” borders on rudeness, but you’ll have to point me to where I’ve insulted you.

  • Liz Winslow

    I understand that; we chose the time because school dropoff was over by then, and Ethan would then just be a bit late to work. We’re happy to make ourselves available at almost any time; our schedules are pretty flexible. Again, I am holding out an olive branch to discuss face to face and civilly. It is up to you whether or not to take it. ewinslow@gmail.com and I will not reveal the identity behind the handle should you decide to do so.

  • HC2010

    “Seems like you didn’t come.”

    Some (most?) people work Mondays through Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm.

  • Liz Winslow

    The only “disingenuous” thing I see here is your contention that your post didn’t have a tilt obvious to anyone who’s been following this.

    Speaking of “stalking” (which most people would call “Googling,” which is not unreasonable if someone is telling you how wrong you are, to see what their credentials/goal is in doing so), isn’t it funny how someone came up downthread with the information regarding who officiated my wedding? Don’t you think that bleeds into the zone of downright creepy?

    At any rate, as advertised, my husband and I were at Bon Appetit at 9am on 3/3 to have a nice 1:1 discussion, because it’s a lot harder to be hostile to someone’s face when you’re having a cup of coffee with them. Seems like you didn’t come. I’m easy to find. Contact me (or if you don’t like me, Ethan Schartman) any time to discuss. We’re perfectly open to that.

  • HC2010

    “Your post here is the attitude of a bully who didn’t get his way in the end.”

    This in response to a post bemoaning the lack of civility in the public discourse surrounding the issue, taking no position either way.

    QED.

  • Liz Winslow

    Interesting. I think there’s no realistic chance of that happening in Princeton, even if out of district placements are considered with PCS, given the new housing coming online. But interesting.

  • Liz Winslow

    Civility is a two-way street, HC2010. I trust you’ve seen the four-letter commentary SOS NJ’s admins have made about charter parents, the threats made by a certain Rutgers professor to skip IRB approval to use some PCS parents by name negatively in academic articles, the threat to sue the press made by the same professor, so on and so forth? Are you aware of strangers showing up to at least my wall to make wildly profane and irrelevant attacks on me personally? It’s chicken and egg, HC2010. PCS parents tried for a long time (years) to have a totally civil discourse, but that’s tough to do when the premise of the anti-PCS folks is that PCS “steals” from their children and is racist and elitist. If the starting point of the loudest anti-charter voices is “You are a bad person if you are pro charter,” how, pray tell, do you continue from there? You seem to be expecting PCS parents to slink away when called thieves and racists. That is the attitude of a bully. Your post here is the attitude of a bully who didn’t get his way in the end.

    The expansion is over and done. It’s happening. I don’t think it’s a productive use of anyone’s time to relitigate the ugliness of the past three months. I think it’s better to put our heads together and figure out how each school can learn best practices from the other (which has happened in the past). FWIW, I’ve had a couple of pretty nice conversations with several people over the past few days who were against the expansion, but now that it’s happening, want to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible for *all* our students. So on my part, it’s not hollow at all.

  • HC2010

    Calls for civility and healing ring hollow given the brutal ad hominem attack, relentless sarcasm, brutal belittling, frank mean-spiritedness, frightening online stalking, and frankly profane language (e.g., “goddam” and “rats ass”) used in full violation of Planet Princeton’s own policies and any norms of civil discourse. My guess is that many voices remain silent for (reasonable) fear of being shouted down online; pleas to come together, issued from those who have been most vicious, are disingenuous at best. Likewise the attacks continue on those who comment and participate anonymously, ignoring the fact that to speak openly is a privilege others do not necessarily enjoy. The assault of logical fallacies (ad hominem attacks, base rate fallacies, appeals to the stone, continuum fallacies, furtive fallacies, false equivalencies, the if-by-whiskey. etc.) proves tiresome and disheartening. I wish we could do better as adults, for our kids.

  • Joe

    The only failures I see are the failures of the school reform movement and school privatization. Stealing money from our democratic public schools for charter schools and school vouchers is a prescription for failure and the undermining of our democracy. The ploy of the charter cheerleaders is to constantly undermine and demean our public schools by whatever means possible. Our public schools are mocked and portrayed as failures, flops and messes while charter schools are portrayed as wonderful miracle schools. This goes on nation-wide and almost constantly.

  • FreshAir

    By american standards we have “good” schools. Unfortunately, the US fails across the board to support quality education for kids. World data proves it doesn’t take more money… reason & passion foster wisdom in our youth. Those are valuable qualities that are fueled by ideals not dollars. In Princeton, school dollars seem to filter up to administrators & out of the system to hangers-on. And, you may not understand me, but it seems our schools have lost their soul. Our administrators, for example, should want to be efficient & working near our kids to keep all efforts honoring their mission. Instead, they are very separate from our kids, & that separation shows in every decision they make. That is why they’re seeking office space on Witherspoon Street. And why would our Super want to look at the small hopeful faces of our kids & our hard-working teachers, when both will profit less from the system than he does? So, I’m not sure why anyone would crow about the Princeton public schools, given the gross inequities in our system…with it’s mixed student outcomes & all. But, I do understand your feeling of civic pride in what our schools produce that’s good. My own kids are an example of success from the system, but I do feel we parents & the awesome work ethic in my kids added the bulk of ingredients to that recipe.

  • Liz Winslow

    Would you elaborate on why you think Larry Patton is incompetent and should be fired? This is news to me, and if the facts change my opinion changes, so I’d be very interested in hearing about what Patton’s done that’s set you off.

  • Liz Winslow

    I have no idea what you are trying to communicate here.

  • Sam Smith.

    The head of school at PCS is so incompetent that $118,501 is too much. The head of PCS must be fire.

  • Sam Smith

    The admission officers of the Ivy League College now see the PCS give the student an education which do not reflect the diversities as JW.
    The admission of high school students, with PCS education, to the IVY League College will be very limited.

  • Liz Winslow

    Still waiting. What is the inside track you have on PCS that I don’t? I’m capable of changing my opinion if the facts change… all you need to do is provide some facts. I’m listening.

  • Liz Winslow

    That’s an interesting data point you have (which narrows my scope considerably on who you are behind your handle), but yes, my husband and I were actually Liz Lempert’s first wedding that she ever officiated. Since you seem so keen to know the details, this was 1/12/12, before our youngest was even conceived and when our oldest was age 4 and had not yet been evaluated.

    There you have it. And your point is?

  • Liz Winslow

    Or, maybe PHS is an amazing school that undoes all sorts of problems generated at JW. I don’t know, but the point is, neither do you.

    In any event, with teachers so highly compensated and qualified, and a parent body with 80% bachelors’ degrees and 50% post-grad degrees, it’s reasonable to expect a lot more than “good” out of PHS. So why aren’t they delivering?

  • Jackie Childs

    Guess she won’t be an officiant at your next wedding. Once was enough, huh?

  • Joe

    Hurrah, hurrah, we agree that PHS is a good school though I would say a great school. Ergo, JWS is also a great school which feeds into PHS.

  • Milo mina

    I put the link but it keeps getting censored. Google superintendent salary cap nj. The caps are about go up significantly but the threshold seems to be 3000 where above it is a big bump and below it a relatively big drop.

  • Liz Winslow

    In any event, the APP data is apparently wrong (for Patton, not for anybody else I cross-checked with NJ Spotlight). So I apologize, you did not make up the $160k, and I relied on a differing data source with apparently outdated info. I was wrong, I admit it.

    That being said – I probably would not have been so quick to dismiss your numbers had you not jumped immediately in with a personal attack on me way upthread when I first chimed in. So keep that in mind.

  • Milo mina

    N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-1 through 15

  • Liz Winslow

    I am going on record correcting myself that NJ Spotlight’s salary number for Patton is correct, and APP’s apparently is not. APP and NJ Spotlight seem to materially tie for every other teacher and administrator I cross-checked, however. I’ll also point out that Patton makes less than Cochrane (and WAY less than Wilson did) with more responsibilities.

    As I said one other time in all of this – I often speak sharply, but I do admit when I’m wrong. Here, I relied on APP data, and that apparently was incorrect, so I was wrong about Patton.

  • Liz Winslow

    See the reply I just posted to “Agnostic” below. I “dare” because you posted information in a deliberately misleading way.

  • Liz Winslow

    I searched for Patton. I found $160k. I then searched for Wilbur and found $111k, and Eckstrom and found $100k, which roughly tie to the APP’s numbers (I say roughly because NJ Spotlight’s data is 3-4 years old, APP is a bit higher, which seems normal accounting for raises). I then searched for PCS teacher salaries and again found the same rough numbers as APP. So does NJ Spotlight say $160k for Patton? Yes. Why? I don’t know. OK, fine, admitted. Why NJ Spotlight has a materially different number? I don’t know.

    It’s also good fun to search for PPS salaries, which again, match the APP data – and in any event, are north of either Patton figure.

  • A Ristic

    How dare you, Liz. How dare you declare that I have lied several times and made things up. How dare you state that I have lied about children when I have been sharing publicly accessible information about an adult public employee’s compensation and about school metrics.

    I have done nothing but fact check via sites and sources that anyone in the world can check. Including you. Take it up with the DOE, PCS, NJ Spotlight, and APP if you think what they are making available to the public is wrong. But accusing someone of lying multiple times over in a public forum, when the information you are declaring false can be easily vetted as accurate? A new low.

  • FreshAir

    Joe, I have shared that my family favored PPS over PCS as our choice for education here. PHS is a good high school because of the teachers… NOT because of the enormous waves of nonsense rolling through the admin building. Those waves are now rolling out into our community. I’m sure not gonna surf them, because there’s garbage in that water.

  • Liz Winslow

    If you’re saying I don’t know much about the school, then please, by all means, educate me. You’re saying you’re way more in the know than I am, so tell me exactly why you think my son won’t be well-served in middle school.

  • Joe

    From the Princeton Patch 12-4-14: Start quote – The graduation rate at Princeton High School increased by nearly three full percentage points from 2013 to 2014, and the school hit a four-year high for graduation rate, according to statistics released by the New Jersey Department of Education on Wednesday.

    New Jersey uses a federally mandated methodology designed to provide a complete accounting of graduation rates by tracking cohorts of students over four years, starting from the time they enter the ninth grade.

    Princeton’s overall graduation rate was 95.47 percent in 2014, up from a rate of 92.52 percent in 2013. Princeton hit its four-year high.

    In 2012, it had a graduation rate of 94.79, with a 92.71 graduation rate the year prior. End quote

    If the JWS, which is a mess and so horrible according to Tony G, wouldn’t PHS reflect this disaster? NO, PHS is a great and successful high school and JWS is a great school, too.

  • FreshAir

    And I admire your passion. It’s easy to spot a person motivated by love & concern for her children, with good intentions, no matter the writing style.

  • Liz Winslow

    What’s your source on salary cap/student body size?

  • Liz Winslow

    She’s married to a tenured P.U. professor and a co-founder of SOS-NJ. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for her to hold out an olive branch OR to press the university hard on PILOT, etc.

  • Liz Winslow

    Fresh Air – just want to chime in and say I really enjoy your writing style.

  • FreshAir

    Around the globe, third world conditions & crowded classrooms produce greater proficiency than US schools. Teachers, passionate & highly skilled in their craft, are allowed to lead kids in their quest for knowledge. And children develop extraordinary wisdom & presence when their vibrant minds are activated… it’s amazing to see & hear the populations of tiny intellectuals leading simple lives, learning big ideas, who will someday run the world and leave our kids behind. It’s embarrassing that our uneducated citizens & town leaders rally to force support of the misuse of resources & bloat in our District, as if that management style really deserves applause. We were once a smart, world community, raising the standard… not one threatening lawsuits, blowing bubbles, & wearing a blue ribbon in our little pond.

  • Joe

    From the PISA web site: The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. End quote
    The test is given to 15 year olds every 3 years. Finland, which always scores high on the PISA, has NO charter schools, NO school vouchers, NO school privatization, virtually no private schools and no home schooling. And all the teachers are unionized.

  • FreshAir

    The Valley Road building stands as a symbol to all, of the District’s poor stewardship that results in decline & waste. It’s our regions most expensive storage closet. We don’t need another school built at this time, because there’s enough good, solid, usable space in our functioning school buildings for education. More effort is exerted & more learning occurs on the baseball field behind it, & it is in safe walking distance from JW & PHS, so it would be sad to see that go.

  • FreshAir

    PISA is the world’s standard test for young teens, not PARCC.

  • Joe

    Since that anti-JWS ad brought up the question of the PARCC test, here is this from the washington post dot com, 1-8-15: Start quote……Sarah Blaine is a mother, former teacher and full-time practicing attorney in New Jersey. She just testified to the New Jersey Board of Education urging members to pull out of PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which is one of the two multi-state consortia designing new Common Core standardized tests with some $360 million in federal funds. PARCC has been losing members as one state after another has withdrawn, choosing to use its own tests.
    Blaine wrote on her blog, Parenting the Core, about the board meeting where about 100 parents, students, teachers, school board members, and other New Jersey professionals gathered at the River View Executive Building Complex in Trenton to “prove just how out of touch New Jersey Commissioner of Education David Hespe is with New Jersey parents, students, teachers, and community members.” She wrote:
    In particular, as you may recall, David Hespe claimed that there was no opt-out or test refusal movement in New Jersey. Today, we proved him wrong. For those who don’t recall, on October 30, 2014, then Acting Commissioner Hespe issued guidance to school districts and charter school leaders in which he suggested (but did not require) that they institute punitive measures in an attempt to squelch New Jersey’s opt-out/test refusal movement before it got started. Hespe’s guidance backfired. Instead, he just pissed me — and countless other New Jersey parents — off…. (Hespe’s real boss is Governor Chris Christie, and there is no doubt in my mind that regardless of what the NJBOE does next, Hespe will continue to dance to PARCC’s tune until Governor Christie tells him to change course). End WaPo citation.

  • Milo mina

    I am sure I will get a lot of heat for this but now that the decision is done, can we focus on how to move past it and stop wasting tax payer dollars on more lawsuits.

    We need to be looking for solutions. I would like to propose that if the Valley road building is too expensive to repair, a new school be built on the field behind the valley school with the plan calling for demolishing the valley road building once the school is constructed and instead use that space as a playgroud/field for kids. The CP building which is old anyway, can then be rezoned and sold to pay for these changes.

    That’s one proposal. I am sure there are many more options available. It is not prudent on behalf of the school board to leave properties like valley road underutilized just to hold on to property. These are taxpayer assets and must be maximized instead of let it waste away and instead ask for a tax rate increase or a bond issue.

    There are options here that might be neutral to the taxpayers while answering the needs of our students. It is high time the council and the school board acted responsibly instead of playing politics with our money and our students.

  • Milo mina

    Speaking of conflicts of interest, it is very disconcerting to see Mayor Lempert join the discussion in such an obviously biased way. She has made her position very clear; she is for PPS and does not support PCS.

    I’m sorry, but when you run for public office, you make a pledge to represent all interests; in this case, the entire town including PCS students and parents.

    She does not have the luxury of a personal opinion. She should be working to bring the parties together, open dialog and seek resolution and harmony instead of taking sides. This was very obvious when she called on the council to opine on the matter and sent a letter to the commissioner.

    I for one am disappointed to have voted for her. Ms. Lempert, I expect impartial representation by you and expect you to recuse yourself in cases like this where your children are attending PPS and act as a champion of all Princeton.

  • Milo mina

    Mr. Cochrane outsized response to PCS’s 78 seats and deafening silence on working with Cranbury to responsibly recover the 200+ seats for Princeton students (fair compensation or not) is very obvious with you look at this:

    The salaries for everyone in administration is a factor of student population served by the district. Very simply he and others make less if the student body is reduced in any way (state law – salaries are capped based on student body size).

    Let’s not pretend this is about the students or teachers. It is economics. This obvious conflict of interest was not disclosed anywhere by Mr. Cochrane. Instead, he had managed to twist the facts and polarize an otherwise educated, intellectual and wise Princeton resident body.

  • Agnostic

    Go to Njspotlight search for Patton. Now, will you stand down!?!

    I hope you apologize to the other poster you called a liar…

    I’m surprised your Rocket Scientist husband would agree with such obviously false information. Shouldn’t scientist’s dig a little more when presented with something that can’t possible be true.

    You were looking at pensionable salary, which requires a teacher contribution. It makes sense that some of the compensation would be shielded from the Teachers Pension Fund.

  • Agnostic

    You are just plain wrong – so is your husband.

    Larry Patton makes north of 160k – just ask the school! there are multiple funding sources… (salary, bonus, stipend, etc.)

    Money that goes from PPS to PCS is zero sum… how does PPS make up the 1.2M that is already being spent on programs or salaries? It cuts something…

    I don’t have a clue what’s best for your kid, nor should I. I do know that your posts show that you don’t know that much about PCS. I have not spoke about your child’s progress… I’ve said let’s see how he does in the middle school…

    Take a deep breath, think before you write. I don’t believe you are helping, you are so one sided that you can’t be taken seriously. Ultimately, you are hurting PCS — likely not your intent.

  • Liz Winslow

    Funny – my husband/children’s father is an astrophysicist (a.k.a. rocket scientist), and he disagrees with you.

    I haven’t been proven wrong at all on salaries, actually. It’s a simple matter to pull the data from APP, if you’re willing to download and sort it. Mr. Patton makes $118. Mrs. Wilbur makes $119k. That’s all there is to it. If you have evidence to the contrary, provide it. Otherwise, you need to stand down.

    Money going to PCS is not zero sum. PPS seems to be laboring under the delusion that if PCS vanished, it would get a pile of money and the 348 kids under its roof would vanish… wrong. And arguably, given PPS’s profligate spending, the cost to the taxpayer would be more, not less, if PPS and PCS did consolidate.

    Why do you discredit our family’s experience so easily? Is it really that hard to believe that a five year old autistic boy slipped through the cracks at PPS and spent days a week in the princpal’s office as a discipline problem, and that miraculously cleared up when given a little latitude at PCS? Because let me show a soft side for a moment – I spent every evening for several years in tears because of how my son was treated at PPS. Do you see yet why we value PCS?

    While you seem quite ready to speak about my child’s prognosis, I wouldn’t do the same about yours. I will say, however, that if he makes it above his current 25% ELA ranking in the ERBs in middle school, we will consider that appropriate progress. This is not Lake Woebegon; all children are not above average.

    Again, please do not presume to know what is best for my child, as a perfect stranger.

  • Liz Winslow

    APP was where I pulled data for every PCS, PRS, and town employee this past winter. You are flat-out making it up that the head of school is cited in APP as making $163k a year.

    That’s right – YOU ARE MAKING IT UP. Or, you don’t know what you’re looking at, or how to parse the data.

    I have confirmed my findings through PCS admin contacts. You are pulling your findings out of… nowhere.

    And I don’t even know what you’re talking about w/r/t incentive pay. PCS is not part of a chain or network. It is a parent-run school, fundamentally. Again – YOU ARE MAKING IT UP.

    Call PCS parents elitists, snobs, whatever… but we’re not liars. And you, demonstrably, several times in this thread, have lied. LIED. About children.

    I’m done with you.

  • George

    Calling JW failing is perhaps a bit of exaggeration (as is calling 1% of the budget a devastating loss). But if one compares scores over multiple years and grades, PPS is generally underperforming districts with similar costs for both majority and minority students. My sentiment is that given high costs per pupil and highly educated population of the town, PPS academic performance is mediocre. PCS, on the other hand, hits it out of the ballpark.

  • A Ristic

    Liz – I have never once cited the $20K+ per pupil budget number as an indicator of a trend or pattern.
    Up thread, I posted a response to Milo mina. You responded and in a subsequent comment told me I was comparing the wrong indicators. That was not the case. I referred you to the source data from the DOE to support that, you questioned the validity of the source data, saying the DOE’s PCS numbers must be weighted, because of the $20K+ per pupil budget number you saw.
    I corroborated PCS’ $20+k per pupil amount for 2015 by noting that it was included in PCS’ submission to the DOE on 10 February 2017. I also included PCS’ disclaimer that the increase in 2015 was due to a debt restructuring. I could have left that out and “misled” anyone reading that it was business as usual, but I did not. You have COMPLETELY turned that against me. My only objective has been to communicate numbers that the DOE is making available to the public.
    (NB — you have omitted PCS’ 2012 per pupil budget data above, which was $16,219. Source: PCS submission to DOE, 02/10/2017.)
    RE: PCS Head of School comp – per NJ Treasury Dept Pension data look-up, PCS Head of School salary is $118,510.00. Data accessible via NJ Spotlight for 2013-2014 lists PCS Head of School salary as $159,000. Data accessible via Asbury Park Press for 2014-2015 shows comp = $163,000. Both cite NJ DOE as source of the comp data. Logical conclusion is that the $118,510 is pensionable salary, the remainder is not. If you can cite data and a source that refutes that, please do.

  • Agnostic

    Ms. Winslow, you are not correct. Do you really think Mr. Patton makes less than Ms. Wilbur? I think you’ve been proven wrong already, so I’ll leave it at that. Furthermore, your comments about PCS are like watching someone writing an article about a football game at halftime. How about experiencing the entire school before commenting so heavily? Speaking from a lot of experience you don’t know much about PCS. Let’s see how PCS serves your special needs child in middle school. Frankly, I think you are not representative of the majority of PCS parents and do a disservice to the PCS community.

    Where do you think the money is coming from that goes to PCS? It’s zero sum! Programs will get cut, teachers will be let go.

    It’s time for PPS and PCS to go back to the negotiating table and work as partners in the interest of all of our children (including yours).

    No more lawsuits – wasting our money, no more Keep PPS strong nonsense, no more claims that PPS won’t be hurt by losing 1.2MM per year from its budget. This stuff isn’t rocket science – just get together and figure it out. BTW, if it were rocket science – I’m sure there would be plenty willing to help in Princeton.

  • CharterMom

    Well said.

  • Joe

    Thanks, Jonathan for some much needed clarity. There is nothing factual about Gleason’s attack ad on JW school. He called the school a mess, that is not a fact, that is so wrong, so unfair to all the teachers, administrators and other support staff at that school. He owes the school an apology. All the staff at JW are just as dedicated, hard working and conscientious as the staff at PCS.

  • Liz Winslow

    Jonathan – thanks for this additional info. It raises other questions about opting out of PARCC (and I think everyone’s out of bandwidth for that debate right this second), but I hadn’t realized the numbers were quite that high. However, those who didn’t take could have passed or failed; would you agree it also would have been factual to have said “37% of students who took the test failed?”

    FWIW, I’m sure there must be somebody at PCS who opts out, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing so. PCS kids also take the ERB. So, one can rely that PCS’s scores are representative of the school as a whole.

  • Liz Winslow

    Having reviewed your source docs, at this point I’m saying you’re deliberately misleading people and bowing out of this subthread.

  • Liz Winslow

    Sigh. Steve Cochrane makes $167,500. You’re looking at PPS salaries. The head of school at PCS makes $118,501.

    So on salaries you don’t know what you’re looking at, and on costs, you’re holding out a one year anomaly for debt refi THAT WAS FOOTNOTED AS SUCH IN THE 2/10/17 REPORT YOU CITE as indicative.

    You’re not much for making a case in good faith, are you?

  • Liz Winslow

    You ARE using a one year outlier for debt restructuring. pages 20 and 27 directly contradict your assertion. Heck, page 31 which is where your own number comes from gives these costs:

    2007: $10,725
    2008: $12,390
    2009: $12,007
    2010: $14,936 (a year report format changed)
    2011: $14,797
    2013: $17,074
    2014: $17,549
    2015: $20,737 “In 2015 the cost per pupil for PCS was elevated by the restructuring of debt and is a one year anomaly”

    But sure, provide that anomaly as indicative. That’s a fair way to conduct debate. Why not point to the REST of the report, which talks about flat funding, etc.?

  • Liz Winslow

    I’ll ask again – you said above this was due to debt restructuring. Are you using a one-year outlier as indicative of pattern spending?

    I’m not saying anything of the sort about PCS. I’m saying I’m a bit confused because you’re giving out numbers that don’t jibe with anything I’ve seen before (such as $163k for head of school – I don’t know about 2014 but it isn’t the case now per state records) that I’m not sure how you’re choosing what to include and what to exclude. That said, I’ll go have a look at the 2/10 filing.

  • A Ristic

    District: PRINCETON CHARTER SCHOOL (7540)
    Operating Type CHARTER
    County: MERCER
    2014-15 Total Spending Per Pupil: $20,737
    Revenue Sources, State: 15.4%
    Revenue Sources, Local Taxes: 73.4%
    Revenue Sources, Federal: 0.8%
    Revenue Sources, Tuition: 0%
    Revenue Sources, Use of Fund Balance: 0%
    Revenue Sources, Other: 10.4%

  • A Ristic

    So are you saying that the data PCS included in its 10 February 2017 submission to Acting Commissioner Harrington, which includes the $20,727 per student budget amount for 2015, same number in the DOE’s 2016 Taxpayer Guide, is incorrect or suspect? What was PCS’ response?

  • Jonathan M

    Hi Tony, I’m going to let you off the hook and assume you’re not a data scientist. Neither am I, but at least one of your “pure and simple” facts is false. In your advertorial, you write in regards to Math, “This confirms that 40% of the students don’t meet State expectations.” You’ve misinterpreted the data in the report. On page 4 of the report you cited, it indicates that 479 valid scores were obtained. On page 2 of the report it indicates that 708 students attend JW. 479 is roughly 68% of the student body. The “37% Failing by default” column which you derived (and is not actually a data point from the report) represents 37% of 479, which is about 177 students. 177 is only 25% of the 708 total students at JW. So a true statement would be “25% of students are not meeting state expectations based on available data.” While that would be a true statement (as opposed to your miscalculated false statement), it isn’t very useful because the data on page 4 also shows that 19% of students didn’t even take the Math PARCC, so we have no way of knowing how those students would have scored. What’s more troubling to me is that while 81% (also on page 4) of the students (573 out of 708 kids) took the Math PARCC, they were only able to use 479 of the results, meaning they had to throw away 17% of the test scores. I suppose we could build a model that would let us derive how the 229 students who either didn’t take the test or whose scores were thrown away would have scored, but it’s probably more fair to students to judge them based on actual performance instead of models that use assumptions. Also, you might want to research and get a better understanding of what peer percentile rankings actually are before you start calling them ground hugging (hint: low peer rankings do not equal poor performing).

  • Liz Winslow

    (my assumption is that you’re not using a one-year outlier for debt restructuring as a general expense data point – is that correct?)

  • Liz Winslow

    I’ve actually raised some of your data points to the school because they sound so out of whack (and I’m not doubting you’ve found them, but I’m doubting they’re correct). $20,737 x 348 kids = $7,216,476, and that in both dollar and percentage terms is way, way off. PPS remits $4.9 million to PCS, PPS does get some grants, and they do some fundraising… but nowhere near to the tune of $2.3 million.

  • Liz Winslow

    You’re absolutely right that the state DOE has to award the charter and gets to renew/revoke it, but I know that PCS came into existence because a narrow vote of the Princeton BoE allowed a charter in the town. At that point, PCS then went to the state to get the charter. Maybe something changed in 20 years about how it’s done, or YingHua failed at both local and state levels? I can’t find any news articles on YingHua being brought up at local vote, though I certainly remember the town’s opposition.

  • A Ristic

    The NJ DOE’s 2016 Taxpayer Guide… is referenced in PCS’ 02/10/2017 submission to the DOE, as the source of data in a per pupil cost table in one of the appendices. The PCS per pupil $ amount for 2015 included in that table is $20,737. The 2014 per pupil amount matches as well. No weighting on the DOE’s part going on, those were PCS’ numbers. They spiked between 2014 and 2015 b/c due to debt restructuring on PCS’ part.

  • Steve Fu

    So let me get some clarity are you stating that since you view them both as “Poster-Parents” for PCS and then by association are all the rest of the PCS parents are people of the same “ilk” and to be avoided? That you would teach your kids to walk away from all PCS parents and kids and not engage them in this town? I’m sure there are good well intending parents of both sides of this debate you included. It baffles me how intelligent adults can lump everyone into the same category. We rail when the President says all “Mexicans” are yada yada and how categorically wrong it is but we can lump all PCS parents as people to be avoided? How is that an intellectually honest statement?

  • Joe

    Mr. Gleason takes facts out of context, he abuses the facts to his own end. Using one test for one year to claim that JW school is a mess and that someone should be fired is ridiculous. In effect, he is slandering all the teachers and educational staff at JW. What about the high school which is one of the best in the state. The whole PPS system is one of the best in the state. PPS teach 90% of the kids, they do all the heavy lifting, they accept all the kids throughout all the school year. No lottery needed.

  • Joe

    Whether a charter school is placed in a school district or not is up to the state DOE not the local BOE. YingHua flopped because of its own incompetence, the blow back from the residents and the superintendents of the districts affected. Additionally and critically, YingHua failed at the planning board level.

  • Liz Winslow

    Oh wait – I refreshed my memory by looking at your past comments – you’re the one with the conspiracy theory about WW-P parents moving into town who’ve somehow reserved seats at Charter illegally, and who thinks Jamaica Ponder did wrong by exposing Nazi-Jew beer pong. Why am I engaging with YOU is the better question…

  • Liz Winslow

    I asked you to clarify your position. You have. That’s not harassment. You mocking another person’s compliment to me on another thread, though – that may count. (“I trust you’re being sarcastic. Liz Winslow, winning friends and influencing people…lol.”)

    Anyway, now I understand your point of view, and thank you for the clarification.

  • Liz Winslow

    I’m happy to meet with you any time to discuss why the expansion will not hurt PPS and will help an underserved population, if you’re willing to refrain from instant attacks. The problem seems to be that folks in town expect that if they attack you, you’ll slink away. That’s not how I work. But, then I get accused of being mean-spirited. C’est la vie.

    BTW, I’m pretty sure that this comment of yours is against PP’s own policy of not attacking individuals. Just putting that out there.

  • Princeton Opinion

    Reading the mean-spirited comments of PCS parents Liz Winslow and Tony Gleason make me feel #blessed that they are not in our daily lives at our schools. We would teach our kids to walk away from these type of people…so, why are we engaging them? They are both Poster-Parents for PCS….enough said.

  • Jaimoe

    What things may “sound like” to you, and what they actually say often seem to be two different things. Again, simply restating a simple fact from the article is not to take a position on it one way or the other, nor does it create some implicit obligation to “address where Keep PPS Strong has posted,” whatever that means. I’m amazed the moderator continues to permit your constant harassment of other posters, especially when it’s 100% baseless, as is the case here. Nuff said.

  • Steve Fu

    I don’t see how such language helps “put a sock in it”. Come out from the shadows and meet her face to face. She can be passionate and maybe cross the lines sometimes but I have hopes that 2 adults might be able to sit down, have a cup of coffee and look each other in the eyes and be civil while disagreeing. I certainly would sit down with you and hear your views but only face to face. If you like I’ll give you my contact info. We all live in this town, our kids are in this town, we’ll interact possibly in another occasion in this town. Do you think you would actually be as vitriolic face to face? I was taught how you act when you think no one knows who you are is a true reflection of your character. Everyone keeps stating it’s all about the kids on both sides, but if any on my kids read these comments I’d be embarrassed by the conduct of the adults. I’m sure that you teach your own kids if you have some to conduct themselves in a different manner than what is occurring here on this forum.

  • Liz Winslow

    Way to elevate the discourse. You still didn’t address where Keep PPS Strong has posted, and is citing in the article, trying to withhold funding from PCS. From the way you’ve posted, it sounds like you agree with this approach. If you don’t, please disabuse me of this interpretation.

  • Liz Winslow

    Also, just looking at the source – and I realize it’s the state – I can eyeball it and know it’s off. The total PPS budget, soup to nuts, is about $6mm per year. Divide by 348 students, and that’s $17k. The site you’re going to lists spending at $20k. I suspect there’s some weighting going on behind the scenes in these numbers.

  • Liz Winslow

    Supply a citation, because the number I have from looking at all publicly available salary data is that Larry Patton makes $118k and Gail Wilbur, head of K-4, is the highest-paid employee/administrator at $119k. If that’s wrong, then the publicly available state info is wrong, and you should let them know that.

  • A Ristic

    No I’m not comparing total admin to admin comp. I did not mix indicators in my comparisons.

    First post, TOTAL administration: PPS % of budget per pupil – 9%; PCS – 23.4%.

    Second post, after you zeroed in on a couple of absolute salary numbers, I went back to look at the DOE’s data on admin salaries as % of per pupil spending. 7% — PPS; 16% — PCS.

    Also, your head of school was making $163,000 as of Oct 2014. The DOE is including that in administrative salaries. So PCS max admin salary not $119,000.

  • Jaimoe

    Yes, they would come out ahead financially, according to the article. To reiterate that for the benefit of a poster who appeared to have it backwards is hardly to advocate “leaving kids back” or “breaking the law.” I mean, seriously, what is wrong with you? Get a freaking grip.

  • Liz Winslow

    You *just said* that the district would “come out ahead” if they paid nothing to PCS. Parody? Maybe, but I’m not mealy-mouthed either.

  • Liz Winslow

    For starters, you’re comparing total administration costs in one district to administration comp in the other. Second, now that the numbers are much closer, keep in mind PPS’s vaunted “economy of scale” – there are 348 kids at PCS to divide the cost by. Last, locker room upgrades and fancy gardens were 0% of PCS’s spending, keep in mind.

  • A Ristic

    Please stop this, Mr. Gleason. I can’t think of one instance where advocates for PPS have honed in on a subset of students or grades at PCS in such a disparaging manner. You are using the word “failing” which is extreme and inaccurate, and using one year, the first pilot year, of PARCC data to substantiate it. Your school, currently the size of one PPS elementary school, now has an additional $1.2 million to work with. Our schools are not good enough for you but our money is. Why don’t you tell us more about how PCS plans to use that money to increase retention of your middle grade students, diversify your student body, etc. Leave the middle school and our kids that attend it alone.

  • FreshAir

    not criticizing your research or concern. I’m sure your intentions are good.

  • Tony gleason

    The ad in the Town Topics was pure and simple facts , when on earth are you folks going to wake up ..you have been bamboozled into thinking Princeton has a great school system. The Facts are that almost 40 percent of students at JW are failing NJ standards in Math. Minority students are far far worse. Denying the facts won’t change reality Please look at all the data and tell me we’re I am wrong ..please

  • Jaimoe

    When did I suggest this? I simply corrected another poster’s misreading of the article. Take a deep breath before you post–you’re becoming a parody of yourself at this point.

  • A Ristic

    I knew you would answer this, Liz, even though my question was directed to Milo mina. And I knew you would bring up PPS’ business manager or highlight an individual salary, to skirt the border of getting personal and to deflect from the overall ratios posted. That’s how predictable this is getting. That business manager earns every penny. Believe me, I’m not an easy sell, and in my estimation that person should earn more. There are no Business/Admin Mgrs at the individual schools. The whole load is carried centrally. The data is from the NJ DOE “Taxpayers Guide to Education Spending 2016.” FYI in NJ DOE’s hierarchy of indicators, administrative salaries are one part of total administrative spending. At PCS, the admin salaries for 2015-2016 were 16% of per pupil budgetary spending; at PPS they were 7.6%.

  • Liz Winslow

    You didn’t answer; you just resorted to more insults. Did you, or did you not, just encourage breaking the law and denying funding to an entire school? What do you think the result would be if PCS received no district remittance at all?

  • BlueBlazer

    Liz, please put a sock in it. My desire to reign in PCS does not equate breaking the law, “starving” 400 kids, or the rest of your hyperbole. I realize it might be tough to, but please step back from the keyboard and take a breath.

  • Liz Winslow

    As I said above to another poster – you are willing to effectively have 10% of the kids in the town left back a year because grownups are having a fight over money, and break the law to boot doing it? It is stunning that you are claiming moral high ground here, willing to deny kids education to get at their parents (because newsflash: PPS couldn’t just suddenly, magically absorb PCS’s population, especially not at JW). Shame on you for even suggesting this.

  • Liz Winslow

    PCS has very few administrative positions, and their pay tops out at $119k a year. Why don’t you go have a look at PPS’s, where even the business manager makes $181k/year? That is bloat. I’d also like to see the calculation of 23.4% spent on administration, as there are only three administrators at PCS. What is the source on that?

    Joe – as for more, YingHua tried a few years ago and was denied. It’s the BoE’s decision. And the BoE granted PCS permission to exist.

  • Liz Winslow

    Just to clarify: you are in favor of breaking the law and starving 400-ish kids of instruction for not being able to pay your teachers? This is your idea of figuring out a way to co-exist? Or even if you want PCS to vanish – what you propose will result in 10% of the student body in Princeton effectively being left back a year.

    Funny, I’ve been called shameful, disgraceful, every name in the book… but man, have you just put the lie to “it’s all about the kids.” What you’re willing to do is TRULY disgraceful, hurting kids because you’re mad at adults.

  • Liz Winslow

    Joe – those numbers in that ad are the MSGPs, produced by the state. They are inherently free of bias because they measure each child’s growth, not proficiency. It may not be nice to hear, but it is completely accurate that JW is at 17th and 26th percentiles for student growth. This is not what I’d call a strong position to negotiate from about how PPS is apparently flawless.

  • FreshAir

    Yes, this is one ugly divorce. Accusations are flying. It’s hard to watch PPS & PCS fight over who is gonna get the money & the kids. PPS accepted PCS’s proposal to share educating here years ago. Instead of figuring out how to amicably co-exist they will duke it out in court, at our expense.

  • BlueBlazer

    I’m in full support of our town reigning in PCS in any manner possible. Hopefully this episode has clarified the risk and danger of giving a non-representative body control over public funds and decisions that impact local public education.

  • Joe

    Cochrane’s fueling the fight? I’d say that the people bad mouthing PPS as if they were the worst schools in the area. That anti-middle school ad in The Town Topics is certainly inflammatory. To judge and condemn a school based on a highly flawed and highly suspect standardized test is propaganda at its worst.

  • A Ristic

    In 2015-2016, PPS % of budget per pupil was 9%; PCS 23.4%. What measure of efficiency and “bloat” are you using?

  • FreshAir

    This decision, which per Cochrane “does not align with the expressed wishes of the Princeton community”, is probably one most in Princeton’s 10,000+- households are neutral or fairly equally divided on.
    Cochrane’s statement that this decision “will diminish the educational opportunities for the vast majority of the students in our town” is pure fear-mongering.
    Someone did a triple take when reading the word “limited”, while trying to type “town’s” in Cochrane’s statement: “our desire to use our townís limited tax dollars to provide the most innovative and effective education for all of our students”. I sure did when I read he thinks there’ll be a funding problem. This part of Cochrane’s letter depletes any hope I had for PPS kids.
    This public letter proves this truly is one awful mess in our town.

  • Blake Cash

    Monetarily, in the short term. Morally they can never catch up, and even if a new governor does overturn the law (never heard of that, isn’t it the job of the legislature?) it is unlikely that it would be retroactive, so the debt to PCS would remain.

  • Milo mina

    What will happen with more efficient competition? The bloated administration of PPS will have to trim the fat.

  • Jaimoe

    Other way around, actually. They get less from the state than they would have to give charter, so if they don’t pay charter and the state cuts off funding, they come out ahead.

  • Joe

    Bravo to the superintendent and Keep PPS Strong. What happens when one or more charter operators try to open up more niche charter schools in Princeton?

  • Liz Winslow

    Princeton Public Schools also pays more in debt service every year than it remits to Charter, if we want to talk dollar amounts. It also isn’t as though if Charter ceased to exist, 348 students suddenly would vanish and PPS would be sitting on a pile of money. Let’s be reasonable here.

  • Blake Cash

    So if I follow the argument from PPS, the amount they pay PCS is less than they receive from the state. The violation of obligation is not even considered. They are willing to wager the resources they claim to be limited on the hope of a new governor (as yet unnamed) who will reverse the law.

    I am so very glad I do not have children under the “guidance” of PPS.

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