community forumDennis Buchert argues against township funding for the Plainsboro Free Public Library (WW&P News, July 5) because “libraries have become obsolete in today’s high-tech world.”

In 2015, the library circulated 366,873 items—nearly 16 per Plainsboro resident. (This compares with the statewide library average of just 6.3 in 2014.)

So our collections are quite popular. Last year, an average of 707 people visited the Plainsboro library each day. 20,000 people attended programs we sponsored.

The library offers classes in English as a second language, provides help with tax preparation and has resources to help unemployed persons with job searches. When Superstorm Sandy knocked out power to many of our homess, the library provided a way to charge phones and communicate with anxious relatives and friends.

Plainsboro Library offers the latest in learning technology. Our digital circulation in 2015 included 12,143 e-books and downloadable audio books. IPads are available for customer use.

We provide online databases, the cost of which would be prohibitive for individual citizens to access. Volunteers (many of them teenagers from our high schools) teach library patrons how to use technology.

Last month alone, the library ran 43 programs that were enjoyed by 1,177 adults and children, ranging from story times for our youngest citizens to a summer reading program, science programs, and health and wellness education. Over 1,000 items circulated per day in June.

Obsolete? I don’t think so. We welcome all residents to visit our library. You will see a busy, active building, wonderful programs, and an important community resource for people of all ages.

– Deborah Brett

Brett is president of the Plainsboro Free Public Library Board of Trustees

Village School expansion explained

On Tuesday, July 12, the school district hosted an open house to allow the public to see the new extension built on Village School to house the central office staff and additional instructional spaces. While the event was well attended, I would like to share with those who could not be there some of the history behind the project and its benefits to West Windsor and Plainsboro.

As reported in the July 5 issue of WW-P News, four members of the public—Pete Weale, Carol Herts, Veronica Mehno and Virginia Manzari—came to the board of education office one afternoon in May requesting an unscheduled tour of the offices, which are understandably nonpublic spaces. They were told it wasn’t practical to hold an impromptu tour during business hours and something was scheduled for them the following week. It was later decided to hold a single event for the entire community after the end of school year.

For years, the most of the district’s central office functions were housed in a small building at 505 Village Road West. Some departments, such as special services, technology and transportation, were located in other buildings and trailers around the district. In 2011, Hurricane Irene flooded the basement of 505 Village Road West, making it unsuitable for offices and making an already overcrowded situation worse.

After considering alternatives, which were discussed at committee and board meetings throughout 2012 and 2013, the board of education decided that constructing an extension to the existing Village School would solve the central office problem and provide needed additional classroom space. A public presentation was made by the superintendent and the district’s architect at the Jan. 28, 2014, board meeting. Details were reported by the WW-P News in its January 24, 2014, and February 7, 2014, issues. (Readers can look up these articles on the paper’s web site.) Construction began in 2014 and was completed in time for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

In addition to offices, construction also included six regular-sized classrooms and two smaller instructional spaces to accommodate increasing enrollment at Village. To avoid conflicts and provide security for the children attending Village, the two sections of the building are separated by locked and alarmed doors. Central Office staff and visitors have their own parking area accessed from Village Road East, while the school continues to use the entrance on New Village Road. As appropriate for a new building, the extension has advanced features for energy conservation and sustainability and is LEED Silver Certified.

While consolidating the different central office functions at a single location has allowed the staff to work more effectively, the greatest benefit was that it allowed the district to free up space in several schools that can now be used as classrooms. This space has been used to accommodate our expanding Pre-K and Special Education programs, as well as expected growth as a result of current development identified across the townships.

For example, Town Center’s third grade was moved to newly available classrooms in Millstone River School so that we could align our special education programs (ages 3–8) which were previously scattered across the district. This allowed for the consolidation of resources and a continuity of care for our Pre-K through Grade 2 special education students. The combination of the new rooms at Village and the newly available student spaces at other buildings gained the school district the instructional space equivalent of another Wicoff School.

With respect to financing, the board of education was able to fund the project through a combination of capital reserves and the district’s enterprise fund, which encompasses non-taxpayer supported operations such as community education and the extended day program. By law, money earned through the enterprise fund cannot be used to fund normal school operations, but can, under certain circumstances, be used for new construction. By funding the project this way, the board was able to avoid burdening the taxpayers with additional debt service. Since no new debt was incurred, a bond referendum was not necessary.

I commend all of the district employees who worked hard to ensure that the project was completed on time and that offices and classrooms were relocated and ready for the start of classes as scheduled. It was their hard work and planning that enabled WW-P to make more efficient use of its facilities and accommodate growth in a fiscally responsible manner.

– Anthony Fleres

Fleres is president of the West Windsor-Plainsboro Board of Education.

Budget vote not bipartisan

I have read the recent letters written by Paul Pitluk with great interest. He has put forward very important questions to council president Linda Geevers. She is very confused as to the difference between the definitions of nonpartisan and bipartisan.

Let me explain to her what bipartisanship looks like. In April 2016, the council crafted our town budget. All council members debated all budget items. After much debate, a consensus was reached on all line items of the budget in April. There had been a bipartisan concensus and agreement on the budget.

Things turned very partisan when Geevers went back on her word and proposed last-second amendments to the budget. It is easy to deduce that her party backers convinced her to nullify the prior agreement.

The votes for the amendments were cast along party lines. Geevers claims that she followed the tenets of democracy. She is correct. She did nothing illegal or undemocratic. What she did was display how partisan she really is.

– Donald Brown

West Windsor