Princeton school board to consider creating two separate ballot questions or postponing some construction projects

The school board for the Princeton Public Schools will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. next Tuesday, July 10 at the Valley Road administration building to decide whether to ask voters to approve a $129 million bond referendum broken down into two separate questions, or to postpone some construction projects for a few years.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane sent a letter out to staff and families today informing them of the special meeting to discuss the scope and timing of the facilities referendum.

“There is no question that as a district we have a need to expand capacity K-12, to address security in all our buildings, to improve HVAC and electrical efficiencies district-wide, and to make some athletic improvements,” Cochrane wrote. “The question we are weighing is whether the tax impact of addressing all of those needs at the same time is one the community is ready to shoulder – particularly in light of the recent decision at the federal level, which will limit the ability of residents to deduct state and local taxes.”

At the July 10 meeting, the board will consider dividing the referendum into two questions or into two separate referenda. One would be voted on this fall and another would be considered by the community in two or three years.  “As always, we welcome your input,” Cochrane wrote.

The meeting is open to the public and Residents can also send comments to

“Princeton is a town that has always supported quality education for its children,” Cochrane wrote. “We are committed to a facilities referendum that honors that support, addresses our needs, and does so as cost-effectively as possible.”


  1. If Mr. Cochrane and the Board of Ed. were serious about ending overcrowding in Princeton pubic schools, they would have moved to stop admitting high school students from Cranbury. Instead, they extended that commitment for another ten years. As a result, it is now very hard to accept any of their assessments of the school district’s needs at face value, no matter how many bond issues or scheduled votes there may be. Regrettably, the issue has now become one of confidence in Mr. Cochrane and the BoE.

    1. Amen to that. What investment would be necessary if we weren’t servicing Cranbury children in our high school? This board’s decision making certainly is in question. And, please, don’t for a minute believe their capital estimates on these projects. Anticipate costs twice what their initial estimates have been.

      1. With the last PHS reno, there were severe cost overruns for construction, then costs to sue the builder, then costs to pay damages to the builder when we lost the suit….and we’re talking millions upon millions of overruns & related damages funded by taxpayers. School administrators aren’t good constructions foreman, that’s for sure : )!

  2. When does Princeton Charter School hold meetings open to all the residents, not just the PCS parents? When does the PCS CEO announce a bond referendum to be voted on by all the residents? Oh, that’s right, it’s a separate and parallel school system that operates in virtual secrecy (regarding its administration and decision making process).

    1. The charter school’s meetings are also posted and are public. There is no bond referendum for construction at the charter school because no public funds are used for their projects. The money is raised by donors.

      1. The PCS charter school expansion, from central jersey dot com: 3-2-2017, The expansion proposal was opposed by Superintendent of Schools Stephen C. Cochrane and the Board of Education, which had argued the expansion would mean an extra $1.16 million more a year it would have to provide the 348 student Charter School, on top of the roughly $5 million that comes from local tax dollars.

        In a statement, Cochrane called the commissioner’s decision “deeply disappointing.” He said he and the school board are considering whether to appeal.

        “Our goal will always be to do what is in the best interest of our students and of the broader Princeton community,” he said.

        “This expansion and this decision is outrageous,” said school board president Patrick Sullivan by phone Thursday. “It is vandalism. We will fight it with every means at our disposal.”

        The expansion proposal touched off an intense debate in Princeton, a town with an uneasy relationship with the Charter School. The school, founded in 1997, has been a flashpoint for controversy for years. Critics resent its very existence, with local tax dollars that otherwise could be for district schools going to the Charter School. Supporters say the Charter, a public school operating outside the jurisdiction of the school board, provides parents with a needed option for their children. End quote

        Tax money going to an arbitrary decision by the charter school board independently of the duly elected school board.

        1. The article is referring to the expansion of the student body in terms of dollars, not facility expansion.

          1. I get that it is an expansion of the student body.
            From the WaPo 5-30-2017: The clock started ticking on Dec. 1, the moment that the leadership of Princeton Charter School submitted an 18-page letter to the state commissioner of education. The district, caught off guard by what they say was a “midnight raid” on its budget, responded on two fronts: first, they met privately with charter leadership hoping to blend resources by moving the charter to a magnet program. Second, they hand-delivered a 140-page statement of opposition to the state commissioner of education.
            The charter hoped the weighted lottery and increased enrollment would help it better meet its mission to serve economically disadvantaged students, who represented 1.44 percent of the charter’s enrollment in contrast to 12.2 percent in the district’s other schools. end quote

            The expansion was a stealth move on PCS’s part, not open to public scrutiny. PCS board of directors are not elected by the whole community. This is unjust, undemocratic and taxation without representation.

    2. Let’s not let Trump’s use of alternative facts become the norm in Princeton. What you are posting is false (as Krystal notes below) and not related to the article, which is about the PPS school board and its upcoming referendum.

      1. Speaking of Trump, he appointed Betsy DeVos and she’s all on board for charter schools and vouchers. The real public schools are not even on her radar.

        1. Per the Trump playbook, rather than admit an error, one changes the subject.

          1. You are the one who introduced Trump into the conversation. Talk about changing the subject. For the record: I voted for Bernie in the primary and Hillary in the general election.

            1. You are very funny! Please keep ignoring that your first post was off-topic and full of false information. That is Trumplike and why his name was invoked.

  3. An 87,000 square foot 5/6 school & 110,000 sq ft admin building show the embarrassing level of economic disconnect privileged District leaders have from the real world, real folks working here, & the needs of our diverse town. The real way to deliver a healthy, wonderful future and planet to all Princeton kids is to remove any excesses in PRS plans. Their generation deserves justice, economic & environmental sustainability in all public policies, decisions, and plans made by adults. Their future shouldn’t be unnecessarily debt ridden or polluted. International data proves that buildings aren’t the influencing factor in school systems that produce great student outcomes. Real world experience also shows that PPSs rushed, poorly designed building renovations became liabilities. We remain grateful to proven town leaders who shared reason & great ideas with this School Board…Mr. Yedlin, Ms. Byrne, Ms. Marchand & many others. We pray reason is heard, reason prevails, and our town is saved from the disastrous effects of unnecessary spending & taxation. PPS students will always represent less than 12% of Princeton’s total population and yet this Board insists on inflating needs & numbers.

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