Materials being circulated by some opponents of the Princeton Charter School expansion claim that 15 teachers in the school district would be fired if the charter school is allowed to expand. This claim is false. It is still unclear what the impact of a possible charter school expansion would be in terms of staffing at the Princeton Public Schools.
Princeton Superintendent of School Steve Cochrane said if the charter school expansion is approved by the state, the funding that would move to the charter school is equivalent to 15 or more teachers.
“I have not said 15 teachers would be fired,” Cochrane told Planet Princeton Thursday. “What I have stated is that the charter school would have to hire 3 maybe 4 teachers to educate the additional 76 students by which it wants to expand its enrollment – students whom the district, by the way, is already educating within the parameters of its budget. The district, on the other hand, would have to pay the charter school nearly $ 1.2 million in tuition for those 76 students, which would represent a loss equivalent to more than 15 teachers.”
Cochrane said he mentioned the numbers of teachers for the purposes of comparison and to illustrate what he says is the economic and educational unfairness of the charter school’s proposal to expand its enrollment.
“The district has rising enrollments, so we are looking both to retain the excellent teachers we already have and to actually hire more,” Cochrane said. “Whether that is possible remains to be seen. If we do not make cuts in personnel, we will have to make significant cuts in programs.”
Or the school board would have to raise taxes or find other sources of revenue.
“We are glad that the superintendent has clarified that our expansion will not cause the firing of 15 teachers, as has been implied to stoke fear and create division in our community,” said Paul Josephson, head of the Princeton Charter School Board of Trustees.
District officials originally estimated that the Princeton Public Schools would lose about $1.5 million in funding annually if the charter school is allowed to expand. Charter school representatives challenged that number and said it was under $1.2 million. District officials later changed the figure to $1.18 million.