EducationThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Hen Hud Looking to Tweak Controversial Princeton Plan

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Acting Hendrick Hudson Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dennis Lauro wasted no time in making his presence felt last week as he indicated changes would be made to the controversial Princeton Plan structure that has caused division among parents.

Three days after taking over the reins of the district from Joseph Hochreiter, who requested a leave of absence, Lauro appeared at his first Board of Education meeting March 1 and addressed the future of the Princeton Plan.

The Board of Education voted in April 2021 to implement the Princeton Plan after much community debate. The move was made as district officials grappled with ways to deal with the closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan and the $25 million annually Hendrick Hudson would be losing. For years, Indian Point has been supplying funding for almost one-third of the district’s operating budget.

The 2022-2023 school year kicked off the district’s first endeavor with the Princeton Plan where its three elementary schools were realigned as Pre-K-1 (Frank G. Lindsey), 2-3 (Buchanan- Verplanck), and 4-5 (Furnace Woods) buildings, rather than the K-5 arrangement that had been in place prior.

“We want to tweak it. We’re not looking to get rid of it. It’s the best program we can offer at this time and place,” Lauro said. “I do understand what the concerns are. I’m concerned about the transitions. The transitions are an issue. I look forward to really getting in there. I’m here to do the job, get things straightened out and move us forward.”

The Princeton Plan has come under fire from some parents for not saving the district any money as promised, offering no academic benefits and creating transportation problems where students are on the bus for as long as 40 minutes.

“The current plan is not doing what it was intended to do,” one parent said at last week’s meeting. “The implementation of the Princeton Plan was created with the mindset of trying to put a square peg in a round hole.”

“Why can’t we go back to what we had already and start over?” another parent remarked. “It’s a do-over. It’s a mulligan. Right now, it’s not working.”

Several other school districts in the region have adopted the same learning model, including Somers, Ossining, Yorktown, Peekskill, and Brewster.

Trustee Erica Mills said while no decisions have been made, some students and teachers will probably be finding themselves under a different roof in the 2023-2024 school year.

“We’re not going back to the way it was, but we’re not keeping necessarily the way it is now,” she said. “At the end of the day everyone wants what is best for the students and it’s up to us to evaluate that. It took Dr. Lauro to come in and give us a little direction.”

Lauro served as Superintendent of Schools in the Pelham School District from 2008 to 2012 before retiring. He returned to that district as an Acting Superintendent in Dec. 2021.

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