Despite a recent study showing that Princeton’s Public Schools will not see major increases in student numbers, petitioners at Princeton Council meetings continue to argue that Princeton High School is over-burdened. According to this argument, development projects in town, including much-needed affordable housing, should be delayed or down-sized because of lack of space at the High School. But this would be a very strange way to make development decisions, especially because 1 in every 6 students at the High School comes from Cranbury, a town ten miles to the south-east, which doesn’t even share a border with Princeton. There would be space for hundreds more students at the High School if the sending-receiving relationship with Cranbury School Board was allowed to lapse.
In 2013, 239 out of 1,425 students at Princeton High School came from Cranbury (source: OPRA request). We welcome students from Cranbury, but it is slightly strange that they go to Princeton High.
Hightstown High School Monroe High School is the closest high school to Cranbury. Hightson High School is also very close by, and Cranbury students are bussed right past two more high schools in West Windsor-Plainsboro to attend class in Princeton. It seems antithetical to the principle of local schooling for them to be driven across multiple district lines to get to class, and what message does it send to the West-Windsor-Plainsboro and East Windsor school boards?
We reached out to representatives of both Princeton and Cranbury Public School boards for comment on the ongoing relationship to send Cranbury students to Princton High. We didn’t hear back from anybody at Cranbury, but Princeton School Board superintendent Steve Cochrane sent us this statement:
“We enjoy a long-standing relationship with Cranbury and are significantly enriched by the many contributions of their students and families. The send/receive contract that governs our relationship with Cranbury extends through the 2019-2020 school year, at which point the current enrollment bubble will, according to our recent demographic study, already have moved through the high school. Finally, our educational relationship with Cranbury also generates $4.5 million in revenue. Without that revenue the district would have to cut both programs and staff, creating a situation in which we might conceivably have more space but fewer opportunities for students and potentially higher class sizes than we do currently.”
A quick look at the Princeton Public Schools user-friendly budget for 2012-13 reveals a line item of $4,493,214 for ‘tuition’, which could well be the “4.5 million in revenue” provided by Cranbury to send their kids to Princeton High. That would work out at $18,800 per student per year, roughly equivalent to what we spend per year on Princeton students.
Did you know that 1 in 6 kids at Princeton High was from Cranbury? Who should attend Princeton High- students from Cranbury? Students from somewhere else? (Trenton?) Or students from Princeton? Have your say in the comments section below.