Princeton voters Tuesday approved borrowing $27 million to fund improvements at six public schools. The referendum passed by a vote of 2,186 to 1,613.
Just under 3,800 residents voted in the special election, according to unofficial results. The tally does not include provisional ballots. Only about 18 percent of Princeton’s 21,067 registered voters cast ballots in the special election.
“This is a great outcome for the students and staff who inhabit our building every day,” said Dafna Kendal, who has chaired the school board’s facilities committee for the past two years. “Each project was designed to improve the environment for staff and students, or to address concerns brought by members of our community who live near our schools. I am sure there will be continuing outreach to the community to make sure the construction process goes smoothly and remains on schedule and on budget.”
The original proposed bond referendum was for $130 million. It was then reduced to $27 million. Both the original proposed referendum and the final referendum were controversial among residents. Some residents criticized the board for caving to opponents and making cuts to the referendum. “The referendum we ultimately put on the ballot was the right thing to do for our community, our students, and our staff,” Kendal said. “Schools should unite communities, not divide them. We listened to our community to develop the final proposed referendum, and now with the passage of the referendum, we can fund needed security and heath upgrades, and some additional capacity.”
Some voters reported problems at the polls. Four polling locations — all schools — were used for the special election. At the Community Park School on Witherspoon Street, some voters were told their voting records were missing from the rolls. A “master sheet” listing registered voters by street started with streets with names starting with B. The streets starting with the letter A were missing from the book, some voters said. Those voters were given a form to fill out for a provisional ballot. Some voters said they had trouble filling out the provisional ballots.
“What normally takes 2 minutes took 20 and I have no confidence that my vote will ever be counted,” one resident told Planet Princeton. “After 31 years voting in Princeton, this is the first time I have run into difficulty and the first time I have had to vote outside my district.”