With the Indian Point nuclear power plants scheduled to close at the end of the month and a large chunk of its annual revenue disappearing, the Hendrick Hudson School District is considering implementing the Princeton Plan at the elementary level to reduce expenses.
In recent weeks, Superintendent of Schools Joseph Hochreiter and other district officials have held a series of community forums to inform parents and residents of what the Princeton Plan entails and what it could mean to students as early as September.
“We knew we had major decisions to make,” Hochreiter said during the first of 10 forums that took place in mid-March.
Since Entergy announced in January 2017 that it would be departing from the nuclear facility in Buchanan, Hendrick Hudson officials have been exploring ways to make up the $25 million it will be losing annually from Indian Point. For years, Indian Point has been supplying funding for almost one-third of the district’s operating budget.
The Princeton Plan, which the Hendrick Hudson Board of Education has been pondering since 2019, involves students being arranged by grade level instead of where they live geographically.
If implemented, Hochreiter said switching to the Princeton Plan could save the district an estimated $2 million annually and result in a 4.5% property tax avoidance. One of the downsides is 14 staff positions in kindergarten through fifth grade would be eliminated.
“None of us are excited about that,” Hochreiter said.
Hochreiter noted enrollment in the district has declined by 10% the last 10 years with 240 fewer students. At Furnace Woods Elementary School, enrollment has dropped 30%.
During its review of the Princeton Plan, which included a stakeholder group of 37 staff, parents and other community members, Hendrick Hudson reached out to Somers, Ossining and Tarrytown to learn how those districts have fared with the same learning model.
If the Princeton Plan is given the green light in Hendrick Hudson, district officials will decide if it will go into effect next fall or be put on hold until September 2022.