School district asks city to share board room expenses

Princeton Schools Superintendent Julia Espe spoke on behalf of the Princeton School Board, the members of which attended the April 6 City Council meeting, to ask that the city consider sharing with the school district the estimated $56,200 cost to renovate and modernize the board room that now serves as the meeting place for the City Council and Princeton School Board.
Espe said a conceptual plan shows a raised platform and room for 11 people. While city staff sits to the side of the platform during Council meetings, the school staff members would sit with the board at the dais during meetings. Espe said the shape of the platform would not be as curved and would be in a little more of a U shape than it is now.
She said the plan includes removing the step that exists in the room in order to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some thought a ramp in the room makes it compliant, but Espe said people have reported that the small step is a tripping hazard. A door directly behind the board and council seats, through which School Board members enter the chamber, would be moved to a corner of the room, another door would be replaced with a sliding door, and a storage closet would be added.
Espe said the school district has already budgeted and paid for new carpet, paint and electronic technology, such as big TVs and recording equipment, from money gained in the voter-approved referendum. She said all that remains as needed for the room are chairs for the audience and the board members.
Espe anticipated the project would be completed sometime this summer and asked if the city would be interested in sharing the cost of remodeling the board room. She acknowledged that the school district uses the room more often but said the district wanted to ask about cost sharing because both bodies use the room and the district has no more referendum dollars to use for the project.
“We know that we should bear the main cost, but we were hoping that you would contribute,” Espe said.
Mayor Paul Whitcomb asked about the possibility of incorporating the existing dais into the new design, since it had been a gift to the city crafted by a local company. He suggested possibly an L shape instead of a U and said a raised platform enables audience members to see who is talking and for board members to see the audience better.
The parties began to talk about the possibilities of a city contribution, perhaps toward the electronic equipment the city will also use, and they agreed there was not a big rush to decide what costs the city will share. City Administrator Mark Karnowski said since Council Member Jules Zimmer was absent that night, the council would wait to have a discussion until he could be a part of it.