The lack of transparency that the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District administration and board of education are showing is dumbfounding, however, it is not a new issue.

The lack of communication and transparency has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. Under the previous board of education the meetings for the different committees used to be open to the community.

Parents and taxpayers would be able to attend these meetings, however, not allowed to make any comments. The logic behind attending these committee meetings was to understand why certain decisions were made and what topics would be on the board of education agenda. However, all that transparency now it is gone.

On Aug. 19 I received the  agenda for the meeting on Aug. 22. Martin Smith, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, did a presentation to the board of education regarding the Bilingual Immersion Program.

Just for those members of the community that are not aware of what this program is about, WW-P is going to start a new immersion bilingual program in Chinese and Spanish. I am very interested in the Spanish one (that in theory would start in September of 2018).

Let me be very clear I am in favor of the program, but I am against the way it is being done.

1. Why did this presentation need to take place in the summer when people are still on vacation? Why does the administration keep doing all these types of events/programs when people are not looking? Why didn’t this presentation take place in September when all the residents are back from their vacations? Doing this presentation on Aug. 22 showed a lack of respect to the community and a lack of cooperation between the administration/board of education and the community.

2. After the presentation of the dual immersion program took place on Aug. 22, the vote was delayed to Sept. 12.  The only reason that the vote was delayed was because not enough members of the board of education would be present as they were on vacation. It is very interesting to see the dynamics of the board of education: There is a delay because of the board of education members, but not because of the community. Who does the board of education represent?

I have many questions regarding this program: What students will be eligible? In what building it will take place? If the building chosen is in West Windsor, are students from Plainsboro going to be bused in? How much will that cost? Does it mean that kindergarten now will be full day? Or only full day for those students in this program? Will the students that are not in this program will be at a disadvantage? How much it will cost to train the teachers to teach the subjects in Spanish and/or Chinese? Why it is only eligible for kindergarten students?

Princeton Public Schools made it eligible for kindergarten and 1st graders at the same time. If we are doing something so significant, what is the rush in voting the same day that the presentation is taking place? What is the true reason to be doing this program at this point in time?

Here is the link to the presentation that was done on Aug. 22: west-windsor-plainsboro.k12.nj.us/departments/World_Languages/dual_language_immersion_pilot_program.

After this presentation, my questions are still unanswered. It seems the administration has identified the problems, however, lacks the knowledge of how to solve them.

Shouldn’t the administration figure things out first and then bring the issue/topic for the board of education to vote on? Once again the “cart before the horse” MO repeats itself.

In addition, I attended a bilingual school Spanish/English and we had all the same subjects in English that we had in Spanish. This idea of “certain” subjects in English and “certain” subjects in the target language makes no sense whatsoever.

I would like to know who the consultant is that is working with the school district and what type of advice the administration is receiving? Why is the community kept in the dark and unable to ask these questions?

Princeton Public Schools delayed the start of the bilingual program for a year because all the variables were not in place. Why doesn’t WWP mimic what other school districts are doing instead of rushing with an idea and trying to implement a half–well thought program?

Things need to change. The community does not need to be kept at arm’s length. Those who are in town, please go to the board of education meeting that will take place on Sept. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

One of the reasons that I am running for board of education is to change this MO, it is beyond unacceptable not to engage the community.

— Veronica Mehno
Mehno is running for a West Windsor seat on the WW-P School Board.