Three seats on the Princeton Board of Education are being contested by four candidates in the November 8 election. All are newcomers, as none of the three incumbents filed to run for re-election.

Debbie Bronfeld

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Background: I grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, where my siblings and I attended public school. I am 55 years old and received a bachelors of business administration in accounting from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and an MBA from Babson College. In 1998 my husband, Jason, son, Harrison, and I moved to Dodds Lane to be closer to my husband’s family.

Our younger son, Max, was born after we moved to Princeton. Our boys went through Princeton Public Schools; Harrison graduated in 2015 and Max will be a junior at Princeton High. Professionally I have been a financial analyst, internal auditor, and held operations and logistic positions for companies varying from Raytheon, Teradyne, an Internet startup selling videos and DVDs and Church & Dwight.

In 2007, right before the economy crashed, I became the founding executive director of Dress for Success Mercer County, a non-profit that assists low income women in returning to work. I was not only able to keep the doors open during the recession, but also able to expand our programs and increase client participation. Since 2013 I have been at Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, first as a volunteer and most recently as a Program Analyst assisting clients signing up for food stamps, as well as running a weekend backpack program for students (Send Hunger Packing) and a senior supplemental food program.

Family: Both my sons attended Littlebrook, John Witherspoon, and PHS. Harrison graduated in 2015, and has spent his gap year working for the campaign to elect Hillary Clinton. He will attend Stanford University in the fall. Max, Class of 2018, will be a junior at PHS this fall. My husband works for Bristol-Myers Squibb as the head of pharmaceutical development IT. Education has played an important role in my family. My mother was a special education teacher, and my grandfather taught high school biology.

School Affiliations: Before I moved to Princeton, I spent many years volunteering for Special Olympics. Since then I have been an active volunteer in our schools. At Littlebrook I was on the PTO, served as community service VP, was a room parent, and volunteered in the library, for the garden club, field day and many class events. At JW and PHS I volunteered for Super Saturday, school plays, homecoming, and PHS band concerts. For Princeton Little League I volunteered at the Snack Shack, and I am a member of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization, where I have volunteered to register New Jersey voters.

It wasn’t until the teachers’ contract negotiations two years ago that I came to realize that I wanted to get more involved. At Board meetings I expressed how, due to the ongoing negotiations and the limits the teachers felt they needed to set, that my younger son and his peers might not receive the outstanding education and opportunities at PHS that my older son had received. Our public schools are tied to the identity of our town, from our property values to our cultural and intellectual opportunities. I want to serve our community by ensuring that our public schools remain strong.

The Issues: I am concerned with preserving the quality of education in our district in light of the expected enrollment growth. Traditionally, with strong community support, we have been able to provide our students a wide variety of programs and meaningful challenges. The anticipated growth as well as increasing budgetary pressure will put our commitment to the test. One of the important issues is that we need to match our district’s resources with our vision for educational excellence. We need a long-term capacity plan that will match our population’s changes and increasing budgetary constraints with our educational needs. Our system needs to be flexible enough to change as our community continues to evolve.

Additionally, I believe closing the opportunity gap is critically important to ensure our educational excellence. I want to ensure each child is valued and supported based on his or her needs. Each child in our schools should feel safe, nurtured and connected to our schools. This will involve families, staff, and students working together.

 

Bill Hare

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Background: I was born in Durham, North Carolina, but consider myself from Clemson, South Carolina, where we moved when I was 2. While growing up we moved around and lived in Colchester, England, as well as Georgia, Texas, and Washington State.

I received a BS in chemical engineering and a MS in bioengineering from Clemson University, a JD/MBA from the University of Houston, and an MS in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University.

My first job after receiving my degrees at Clemson was working as a research assistant at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, working with teams on artificial hearts and heart assist devices. I then worked at Mallinckrodt Medical in Angleton, Texas, as an R&D engineer developing cardiology and radiology catheters. While working at THI and Mallinckrodt, I attended the JD/MBA program at the University of Houston. After graduating from the University of Houston, I went to work at a law firm in Washington, DC, practicing food and drug law and then later also patent law. While working in Washington I started working on an MS in biotechnology that I finished up once I moved to the Princeton area.

I moved to Lawrenceville to take a job in the patent department at Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals, a generic drug company headquartered in India. After working at Ranbaxy for about five years, I left to start a clinical study support company (now known as drugdev.org) and join a small patent law firm with former colleagues who were based in Washington, DC. Although I left drugdev.org about four years ago, the law firm morphed into my current law firm, McNeely Hare & War, as former colleagues from Ranbaxy and law firms in DC joined us. My group focuses on helping drug companies deal with the patent issues to get their generic drugs onto the U.S. market.

I am 53 and I moved to Princeton in 2008 from Lawrenceville, where we had lived since 2002. We moved into our house at 183 Jefferson Road in 2009. Although we enjoyed living in Lawrenceville, we realized that we spent most of our free time in Princeton and should move into town. We also wanted our kids to attend the Princeton public schools. Fortunately for us, during the recession we found a house on Jefferson Road that we could afford. We are slowly updating the house and take advantage of our location by going for runs around town as well as walking into town, the pool, and the high school.

Family: My spouse is Denise and she currently is back in school. She has an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences from Texas A&M and an MBA from the University of Houston. After our oldest son, William, was born, followed later by Lizzy and Peter, she took on the full time position of CEO of our family and brought me on as Assistant to the CEO (my current title at home).

For the last three years she has been in a nursing and nurse practitioner program at Rutgers University — Camden. She received her nursing degree in December, 2015, and is scheduled to receive her doctors of nurse practitioner degree in May, 2018. She will receive her degree just in time to help fund the college education of our oldest son, William, who is entering his junior year at the Princeton High School, where he enjoys participating on the cross country and track teams.

My daughter, Lizzy, will be a freshman at the high school this fall. She is on a diving team and plans on running cross country and track. My youngest son, Peter, will be a seventh grader at the Princeton Charter School. He enjoys running cross country and playing in one of my favorite Princeton institutions, Princeton Little League baseball. All three kids attended the Princeton French School before entering the Princeton Charter School and are attending, or will attend, Princeton High School.

School Affiliations: I have never worked in education, although education has been a topic for dinner time discussion for my entire life because my father and step-mother were math and computer science professors, respectively, at Clemson University, and my brother is a statistics professor at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. Two of the regular topics have been and continue to be (a) the challenges associated with students transitioning from high school to college and (b) academic integrity of students.

I have volunteered on an affordable housing task force set up by the mayor and am currently on a sub-committee dealing with traffic in Princeton. I got involved in the affordable housing task force and the traffic sub-committee because I want to be more involved in the future of Princeton.

After moving around most of my life, I do not plan to leave my house on Jefferson Road for the next 40 to 50 years — as such, I have a long term interest in how my adopted town evolves. For example, when I return to my home town of Clemson I am saddened to learn of the reduction in public school funding and see how the town has been transformed for the worse. I want to be involved in moving Princeton forward and avoiding the changes inflicted on my home town.

The Issues: My three primary objectives are: fiscal planning, contributing a commonsense voice to our school system’s growth, and accessibility to others’ concerns. I believe that the first two objectives are intertwined. Our town is growing and, as a result, I believe we will see many new students in our school system. I would like to help plan for and deal with that influx of new students. This growth will have a fiscal impact on us all. About 50 percent of our property taxes are used to fund our schools. Will this be enough and, if not, what can we do? I enjoy coming up with creative solutions to complex problems and I expect that the fiscal planning for our school system will require creativity.

Finally, people consider me accessible and open to others’ concerns. I believe that this is an important characteristic for a school board member as we are representing not just our own views, but those of our community. Besides these three main objectives, I am interested in methods of ensuring academic integrity in our schools and finding a final resolution to the future of the Valley Road School.

I hope to set up a webpage at www.williamdhare.com in the near future where I will provide more details on my positions.

 

Alex Martin

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Background: Originally from Scarsdale, New York, and having lived in Latin America, Chicago, the Main Line, and Europe, I landed here with my family in Princeton in 2007. We chose Princeton because of proximity to family as well as two important industries to us — healthcare and education. I studied government at Cornell, received my MBA from Harvard, have been in pharmaceuticals for most of my professional life, and now run a small biotech company. I just turned 49 years old and live on Hun Road.

Family: My wife, Maria Sophocles, started her own gynecology practice (Women’s Healthcare of Princeton). We have four teenagers who have attended Johnson Park, Princeton Charter School, and Princeton High School. My oldest son is a sophomore at Duke, my second son is a senior at PHS, my third son is a sophomore at PHS, and my daughter is in eighth grade at Princeton Charter School.

School Affiliations: Over the past 28 years I have counseled, tutored, taught, and parented in my spare time. I also volunteered to become a member of the Boy Scouts Troop 89 Committee in Princeton, and currently serve as the chairman for Cornell’s Alumni Ambassador Association for Mercer County, and as the 1995 Class Secretary for Harvard Business School.

The Issues: Having been exposed to excellent school systems (including Scarsdale, Winnetka, Conestoga, and Princeton), I am a passionate believer in the potential of public school education. The tension between most taxpayers (who naturally want to pay less) and top school systems (which want to remain competitive) exists everywhere. In Princeton this challenge is particularly acute because of the abundance of private schools. This means we have an unusually large number of residents who don’t use the school system, making the tax discussion even more difficult.

If elected to the board, one of my goals would be to help explore and potentially import some best practices observed elsewhere. For example, several top-ranked public schools have succeeded at raising endowments to lessen dependence on tax revenues. Others offer students the ability to choose optional internships at the end of senior year to alleviate “senior slump.” Princeton can continue to raise its standards by looking to other models of success and evaluating whether they should be implemented here.

Princeton already provides a very good education for most of its students, but I think we can do even better and hope to have the opportunity to serve on the board and make a difference.

 

Gregory Stankiewicz

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Background: Like many of you, I was drawn to Princeton by the strength of the community and the quality of our public schools. After attending graduate school here, I returned 12 years ago, and now reside on Jefferson Road.
I am 53 years old and have spent my entire professional career in the public and nonprofit sectors. I most recently served as chief operating officer for a nonprofit community development financial institution serving low-income communities throughout our state. Previously, I worked for six years for the State of New Jersey’s Office of Management and Budget.

I have undergraduate and master’s degrees from Harvard University; a graduate diploma in international law from the Australian National University; and a master’s and PhD in public policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. In addition, I have published academic articles dealing with public education, community development, and state fiscal issues.

Family: I am married to Julia Sass Rubin, a professor of public policy at the Edward J. Bloustein School at Rutgers University. Julia is one of the original co-founders of the pro-public education parent advocacy organization, Save Our Schools New Jersey. (I am a proud member, as well.) Our daughter, Raisa, will be entering Princeton High School. She has been lucky enough to have attended Princeton schools her entire life, having just completed three wonderful years at John Witherspoon Middle School.

School Affiliations: I began my professional career assisting the first deputy director in the Office of Budget Operations and Review, at what was then the New York City Board of Education. During my time working at the largest public school system in the U.S., I focused on issues of equity in funding. This experience taught me the importance of battling for the resources necessary — from all levels of government and from private sources of support — to adequately educate all our children.

I and my family feel tremendous gratitude to the teachers, staff, administrators, and members of the Board of Education who are guiding our schools. I am running because I believe I can help to continue the excellence and inclusiveness that make our schools a model for New Jersey and the rest of the nation.

The Issues: I will focus on these core principles:

Excellence: Our children receive an outstanding education. We need to work together to protect this excellence in the face of a difficult political and economic environment. We also need to continue preparing for increased enrollment levels resulting from new development.

Inclusiveness: The Princeton school district is a model of how to effectively educate all our children, regardless of their special needs, English proficiency, or family income. The new Dual Language Immersion program at Community Park is one innovative example. I will support the continuation of this inclusiveness.

Joy of Learning: I support Superintendent Steve Cochrane and his team’s efforts to provide our students with a holistic education — rich in the arts, music, sports, and other such activities — while developing their academic skills in a warm, supportive environment.

Democracy and Accessibility: I believe in local democratic control of our schools, and pledge to be transparent and accessible to each of you, as our public schools belong to all of us.

For additional information, visit: www.facebook.com/Greg4PrincetonSchoolBoard/