WW-P budget to include roof work

$1.5 million designated for capital projects

By: Emily Craighead
   The 2006-2007 budget will include about $1.5 million for capital projects in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, according to a draft presented at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.
   Major projects on the proposed list include roof repairs at High School North, High School South and Millstone River School. Those repairs are expected to cost $944,000. Based on a recent evaluation of all the district’s buildings, the district will face $8 million in roof work over the next five years.
   Paving the Maurice Hawk Elementary School parking lot is included in the budget, as is construction of a sidewalk in front of Dutch Neck Elementary School. Together, those projects would cost $210,000.
   In addition, the budget calls for $66,000 to be set aside for safety-related repairs, including fire panel replacement at Dutch Neck, High School South, Community Middle School and Wicoff Elementary School.
   Another $280,000 is included in the budget for smaller projects including the sound system and clocks at Wicoff and Maurice Hawk, carpets at Maurice Hawk and Dutch Neck, building and grounds equipment and technology.
   One unresolved issue is the district’s aging bus fleet. With five buses slated for retirement in the next year, the district would have to replace at least a few of them to maintain the balance between in-house and contracted bus services. In the past, the district has entered into lease-purchase agreements to acquire school buses. A bus can cost between $60,000 and $90,000, according to Assistant Superintendent for Finance Larry Shanok.
   Also Tuesday, district administrators presented an overview of athletic and co-curricular programs.
   Increases in the athletic and co-curricular programs budget will reflect stipends mandated by contract, they said. Other costs related to these programs include transportation and equipment replacement. No new athletic programs will be launched next year, so the cost is not expected to rise significantly.
   Athletic expenses at the middle schools added up to $332,298 in 2004-2005. Figures for 2005-2006 were unavailable. At the middle schools, where the athletic programs emphasize teamwork and sportsmanship, students can choose from 10 different sports, in addition to five intramural sports programs. There are 37 coaches at each middle school.
   In the 2004-2005 school year, the district spent $1.1 million on high school athletics.
   Each of the two high schools offers 29 sports programs, with about 400 students participating in each of the three seasons. There are 29 varsity and 43 junior varsity or freshman coaches at each high school.
   The district also employs one athletic director in each secondary school, a trainer and a fitness supervisor in each high school, as well as the district athletic director.
   Co-curricular activities at the middle school and high school levels include countless clubs catering to interests including bowling, yearbook, Chinese, robotics and community service. Those activities cost $436,591 for the high schools and $279,497 for the middle schools in 2004-2005.
   The board will continue to hold public discussions about the budget at each of its upcoming meetings.
   A preliminary budget will be submitted for the county superintendent’s approval in early March. The public hearing date is March 28, and the budget election is April 18.