Princeton school board to consider $12.9 million bond referendum

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A bond referendum provides a mechanism to get state aid to reduce the impact on taxpayers, according to board member Beth Behrend

Princeton Public Schools officials are gearing up for a proposed $12.9 million bond referendum in November that would provide money for security and technology upgrades at all six schools.

Business Administrator Matthew Bouldin outlined the proposed bond referendum at the Board of Education’s July 25 meeting.

If the school board approves the proposed bond referendum, the question would be placed on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. The board is expected to consider the bond referendum and potentially sign off on it at its Aug. 22 meeting. The meeting will be virtual.

Bouldin broke out four areas of focus – safety and security; wellness and sustainability; major maintenance; and technology. Safety and security and wellness and sustainability combined would account for nearly 59% of spending.

Overall, safety and security would account for $4 million, and wellness and sustainability projects would cost $3.5 million. The bond referendum anticipates spending $3 million on major maintenance projects and $2.3 million on technology upgrades.

Safety and security improvements would be made at the six schools, based on walk-throughs by the Princeton Police Department, Bouldin said. He declined to reveal the details of the proposed upgrades.

The six schools would receive technology upgrades to a 10-GIG network. Bouldin singled out the Johnson Park School, which would get improvements to its Wi-Fi network.

At Princeton High School, there would be Ecolab upgrades and athletic field updates, Bouldin said. There would also be a locker addition, as well as kitchen and cafeteria updates.

Playground upgrades would be made at the Princeton Middle School and the four elementary schools. An upgrade would also be made at the middle school’s swimming pool, Bouldin said.

At the Community Park and Littlebrook elementary schools, drainage upgrades would be made in addition to the playground upgrades. There are issues with drainage at the playgrounds.

Fencing replacements would be made at the Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook and Riverside elementary schools.

School district officials would seek to have the state pick up about 30% of the tab for reimbursement in state aid. It would pay for part of the principle and interest costs, Bouldin said.

School board member Beth Behrend said the idea to tackle smaller bond referendum questions grew out of the district’s 2018 bond referendum. The public wants the school board to be pro-active and to ask for things when they are needed, she said.

“The fact that we can do it in connection with the regular election when people are coming to the polls anyway gives the taxpayers a choice whether they want to make the investments. I think this is a very good way to be doing this,” Behrend said.

Behrend pointed out that if the school board authorized spending the money through its budget, taxpayers would have to pay the entire cost. A bond referendum provides a mechanism to get state aid to reduce the impact on taxpayers, she said.