Planet Princeton

Local officials: Princeton Public Schools bond referendum will be delayed because state has not signed off on the $130 million proposal (updated)

Princeton Public Schools officials wanted voters to approve a $130 million bond referendum this November for school construction, but could not get approvals from the state for the  plan in time to have the questions placed on the ballot.

Representatives for the district submitted an amended plan after the school board voted on May 29 to buy the Thanet property for administrative offices. The state has not completed its review of the amended application.

Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane did not respond to an email from Planet Princeton asking for the date when the amended plan was filed with the state. He did say the original plan was filed April 18. The entire plan for nine proposed projects had to be resubmitted.

“The Princeton Public Schools received notice today that the New Jersey Department of Education is still in the process of reviewing the district’s facilities referendum plans, along with multiple projects from other New Jersey school districts,” reads a statement from the administration for the school district that was issued in a press release by the new communications director for the district Tuesday afternoon.

School officials claim that the state has not been able to approve the Princeton project because of a state backlog for reviews. “Due to the backlog, the state review is not yet complete, and as a result, the referendum ballot question will not be on the Board of Education’s agenda tonight,” reads the statement.

The next possible date for the referendum to be on the ballot would be Dec. 11. The revised date for the vote will be determined after the state approves the plan.

“We remain excited about the facilities referendum and will continue to communicate the facts to our community as we plan to address needed improvements to our buildings as well as needed space for our current and growing student population,”  Cochrane said.

“Our goal continues to be to make critical upgrades to our security and HVAC systems at all six schools while expanding our capacity with needed and innovative spaces that are cost-effective, sustainable, and supportive of how our students learn and how our teachers teach. We recognize the importance of this vote to our current students and staff, to the generations of students to come, and to a community with a tradition rooted in high quality education for all,” Cochrane said. “We will take advantage of this additional time to ensure that everyone has accurate information about the district’s needs for space and security, the impact of the proposal on learning and wellness, and the associated costs both short and long-term.”

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.

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