This article was originally published in the September 2017 Princeton Echo.

Three seats on the Princeton Board of Education are being contested by six candidates in the November 7 election. For the second consecutive year, all the candidates are newcomers, as none of the three incumbents filed to run for re-election.

Beth Behrend

Riverside Drive

Please tell us where you are from originally, your academic and professional background, your age, and when and why you moved to Princeton.

I’m originally from Hartland, Wisconsin, and received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in German Literature and International Relations. After receiving a J.D./LL.M degree from Michigan Law School, I began practicing law (mergers & acquisitions, international finance) in 1993 in New York City, and then moved on to corporate legal positions at British Gas in Singapore, Schlumberger Ltd., and Kizmo.com in New York. In 2001 I moved to Princeton with my husband and joined the legal team at Medarex Inc., a public biotech company, where I advised management on matters including securities law, board governance, financings, regulatory compliance, and employment issues. When Medarex was purchased by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2010, I “retired” to spend more time with my three young children and became involved in the Princeton community and nonprofit sector. I’ll be 50 in November.

Please identify your spouse or significant other, their occupation or employer, and ages of your children. Where have your children attended school, and where are they now?

I am married to Robert Eaton, a Princeton University graduate who works for BlackRock in the field of asset management. Our children are ages 11, 13, and 15. They all attended Riverside Elementary and next year will be at John Witherspoon, the Pennington School, and PHS.

What activities or organizations have you been involved in that relate to education or the local community, either here or other places you have lived? What caused you to first get involved?

During my 11 years as a Riverside Elementary parent, I served for two years as PTO president and eight as VP of gardens. As PTO president I was fortunate to work with fellow parents, teachers, and administrators to stabilize the budget, dream up and fund enrichment programs, and build a connected and welcoming community. As VP of gardens I led efforts to create the “Healthy Children, Healthy Planet” garden fair that raised more than $50,000 in funds for garden education, administered Riverside’s garden residency, and helped successfully lobby the district to assume control of the gardens at all four elementary schools (benefitting more than 1,000 children) in 2016.

As a member of the PTO Council over the past several years I have worked with district PTO leaders, as well as Board representatives and the superintendent, on issues impacting all of our children and families, including improved communications and parent education events.

I’ve also served on the boards of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, the NJ League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the Princeton School Garden Cooperative, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, where I also teach religious education.

As a family, we have enjoyed hosting international scholars through the Prince­ton University Davis International Center, sharing family dinners and holidays with families from China, Brazil, Japan, and Germany.

I first became involved in community service when my daughter started pre-K at Riverside, and I realized that my small efforts could make a difference both to the school and to my daughter, who was watching and learning from my actions. Working full-time with three little kids, I didn’t have much bandwidth at first. However, as my children have grown, I’ve been able to dedicated increasing amounts of time to public service.

When I was growing up in a small Midwestern town, community service was a given and my parents attended meetings almost every night. Dinner table conversation often revolved around the doings of the planning commission, village board, the Legion post, church committees or the local theater company. We kids felt very much a part of our local community and knew that our parents helped make it what it was. I want my children to have a similar grounding here in their hometown of Princeton.

Why are you running for school board? In up to 300 words, please identify the issues that are of particular concern to you, or that you feel are of greatest importance to the community.

This is an exciting time of growth and opportunity for the Princeton schools, and the school board has its work cut out for it in the years ahead. I’m ready to contribute my skills and experience to help tackle challenges, consider various viewpoints, and find fair and creative solutions. We have the opportunity to:

1. Be better financial stewards: Property taxes are of urgent concern in Princeton, where many homeowners can no longer afford to live or retire. With a bond referendum set for 2018, we must be transparent and vigilant about current spending as we ask taxpayers to approve new debt. This means calling upon financial expertise in our community, embracing innovation, capturing savings through energy audits and sustainable technologies, and reviewing administrative positions to ensure that the jobs people are doing reflect current needs. We must ensure that our tax dollars are being spent in the most efficient manner to secure the best possible education for all of the 3,800+ children in our district.

2. Develop our 20-year vision: We need a long-term plan in order to make appropriate decisions today. What strategic decisions make sense now to save taxpayers money in the future? How much space do we need, not just for our current high enrollment but in years to come as more housing is eventually built? Will we be a leader or a follower in innovating and capturing savings from energy efficient and sustainable buildings? What can we learn from peer districts that are doing things right.

3. Achieve wellness and balance: Our neighborhood elementary schools nurture children in happy, connected learning environments. Let’s redouble our efforts to ensure that our kids keep their love of learning through JW, PHS, and beyond. The Bell Committee, parent/teacher strategic working groups, the Special Education PTO, Princeton CHOOSE, and advocates for racial literacy — all are working hard to improve the experience of our children and deserve our support and encouragement. Each one of our beautiful kids needs to be seen and flourish in school — regardless of ability, readiness, or any difference.

4. Communicate and listen: All of us share the common goal of wanting our children to thrive. When we differ in opinion, let’s model for our kids how respectful listening and dialogue can lead us forward. Let’s work to unite our community in support of creative, equitable solutions. Improving communication, responsiveness, and transparency within the district also must remain a high priority.

I am happy to clarify my positions and look forward to hearing the concerns and questions of Princeton voters. Please contact me at behrendforboe@gmail.com.

Jess Deutsch

Riverside Drive

Please tell us where you are from originally, your academic and professional background, your age, and when and why you moved to Princeton.

I grew up Warren, New Jersey, where I attended public school. I graduated from Princeton University in 1991 with an A.B. in English and American studies. As an undergraduate I was involved in class government and community service, leading projects that brought local schoolchildren to basketball games at Jadwin and to Communiversity.

Early in my career I lived in Washington, DC, where I did research for national and international policy organizations, and then completed a masters at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. When we moved to central New Jersey, I worked as a consultant to nonprofit organizations and received a masters in social work from Rutgers, doing field work at Jewish Family and Children’s Services and the Association for the Advancement of Mental Health.

After a season as winter reader for the Office of Admission at Princeton, I served as associate director, Health Professions Advising, counseling hundreds of extremely talented undergraduate Princeton pre-med students. For the last few years, I have been working privately as an educational advisor and consultant, including directing student support for a foundation serving African students at U.S. colleges, and this summer, writing a presentation for an international Montessori conference and supporting Rutgers health professions students.

Please identify your spouse or significant other, their occupation or employer, and ages of your children. Where have your children attended school, and where are they now?

I met my husband, Ted, at Princeton. We moved back to Princeton in 2005 to raise our children in this community with its diversity; sense of neighborhoods; connection to vibrant cultural, intellectual, and athletic life; and its vibrant schools. When I saw the “wall of dreams” in Riverside School (anyone who hasn’t seen it should) I knew this town was where I wanted our children to grow up.

Ted, also a product of public schools, is president of Taft Communications, and served as board president of the Arts Council of Princeton. Both of our children happily attended Riverside Elementary, right next door to our home, and John Witherspoon Middle School. Our son, Alex, graduated from the Hun School and will be a senior at Middlebury. Our daughter, Maddie, just graduated from Princeton High and will attend the University of Michigan this fall.

What activities or organizations have you been involved in that relate to education or the local community, either here or other places you have lived? What caused you to first get involved?

Ted and I have both been active volunteers, especially in activities related to children, education, the arts, and athletics. I served for several years on the board of The 101: Fund, supporting scholarships for PHS graduates in need of financial aid for college. Prior to that I was on the HiTops board and Princeton Common Ground. I am currently serving on the Friends of the Princeton Public Library. With all of these groups, my strength has been organizing people and events around big ideas, especially in education.

In 2010 after seeing the film “Race To Nowhere,” I organized a screening for nearly 500 people. That event helped begin a conversation in our community about the unhealthy aspects of high achieving communities like ours, through a social media group I started called Princeton Balance. The issue of student well-being has been a concern to me from the work I’ve done professionally on campuses as a private advisor and as a parent.

I have been a contributor to the school district’s Wellness Committee and Athletics 2.0, and believe that these conversations have laid the groundwork for actions that will make a difference for all of the children who are currently in our school system. I have also tried to use my skills as a social worker to be a listener and convener of people. I think I can be a voice of calm, reason, practicality, and principle — and bring people together in creative, positive ways to confront the challenging issues our school district will face in the next few years.

Why are you running for school board? In up to 300 words, please identify the issues that are of particular concern to you, or that you feel are of greatest importance to the community.

I decided to run while I was at the March on Trenton last fall, but I’d been thinking about it for a long time. I think serving the school board is the best way for me to use my energy, passion, knowledge, and skills in the interest of all of our children. Now, more than ever, I think that we need to “be the leaders we’ve been waiting for.”

I believe that my efforts with Princeton Balance have been influential in guiding the district to take a serious interest in not just how well students are doing in school but how well they are as whole people. With the recent Challenge Success survey data from PHS, it is clear that we have reasons to be concerned about our children’s well-being. I am heartened that our school district’s strategic plan has a focus on wellness and, if elected, will be a strong advocate for what research and common sense tell us about issues like sleep, stress, homework, schedules, and healthy brain development. I believe that my presence on the school board will help us to take steps to make our schools and community healthier for all of our students.

I know we have so many strengths and resources as a school district, especially many dedicated teachers, and I also know that many of our most vulnerable students — those whose parents are challenged by economic, political, and language barriers — do not feel seen or heard or cared for. As a district, we have to do more to make sure that we not only know and respect every student and family, but also provide a positive experience every day in school, so that every child can gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to thrive. If elected, I would like to focus on the ways that our schools communicate with parents and strengthen the messages and mentoring we offer our students. I would also support the current emphasis on racial literacy and believe the board can play a strong leadership role in modeling the respectful dialogue and relationship building around difficult but critical conversations including those about race and social justice.

I want to serve on the Board in order to be a proponent of balance, excellence, and respect for every student. I believe we have a collective responsibility to manage our many resources in creative ways, driven both by what we know from research and attention to best practices around the country and the world, and also to listen well to the children, parents, teachers, and community members for whom our schools are defining what childhood, education, and community mean.

I am confident I would bring to the Board strong day-to-day judgment; deep community relationships; an ability to listen, think big picture, and find common ground; and personal and professional experience with the critical issues our school district and families face. I look forward to expanding on my views of specific issues over the coming months.

James Fields

John Street

Please tell us where you are from originally, your academic and professional background, your age, and when and why you moved to Princeton.

I am a 35-year-old African American husband, father, and preacher who was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I attended Catholic school most of my life and it culminated with my high school experience at the University of Detroit High School & Academy. I attended Central Michigan University, where I graduated twice: in 2004 (bachelor of science) and in 2005 (master of public administration). After spending five years at Central Michigan, I then moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to pursue a master’s degree in Theology. My family and I moved to Princeton in 2013 to assume the role of ministry fellow with an organization called Christian Union. I have served as a ministry fellow for the past 4.5 years, and I recently accepted an opportunity to serve as the ministry director of undergraduate studies at Princeton University.

Please identify your spouse or significant other, their occupation or employer, and ages of your children. Where have your children attended school, and where are they now?

I am married to my wife of 11 years, Katherine Fields, and together we have three children — two of whom will be attending Princeton Public Schools in the fall. Our oldest child has been attending Johnson Park since 2013 and our second child will be joining in a couple of weeks. My wife, who is an experienced health professional, has dedicated this season of her life to her art, to our community, and the care of our children. We’ve lived in three different states within the past 11 years and we have had a child born in every state that we lived in. Here is our family’s blog: readkidstruth.com.

What activities or organizations have you been involved in that relate to education or the local community, either here or other places you have lived? What caused you to first get involved?

My community involvement within Princeton is largely connected around the university and athletic activities in and around our neighborhood, John Witherspoon. We are faithful members of the YMCA and we have grown a great love for the Princeton community because of the many relationships established therein. Our children have been participants of the YMCA basketball programs, swim classes, and dance classes.

It is at the YMCA that I have the pleasure to enjoy fellowship and exercise with the morning basketball crew. This dynamic and diverse group of men has been instrumental in connecting me with the town. My wife and I have been actively rearing two small children, however, this has not limited us in engaging with the issues that matter most to us, race relations. Both my wife and I have been participants within the “Not in our Town” meetings and discussion groups. In addition, I have also volunteered as a summer basketball coach with the 76er’s basketball camp at Princeton Day School.

Why are you running for school board? In up to 300 words, please identify the issues that are of particular concern to you, or that you feel are of greatest importance to the community.

First and foremost, I am running as a concerned parent. It is my desire to cultivate a learning environment that exhorts the pursuit of excellence and not success. I envision a school system where excellence prevails: “being your best” and not simply success: “being the best.”

Second, I am running as a concerned resident. I think Princeton has a strong bias towards the rich and the wealthy; hence, we’re unable to meet the needs of every family. I’m concerned for middle class families who make enough money to live a sustainable life; however, they make too much money to be eligible for financial aid.

Third, I’m running as a concerned candidate. My goal is not primarily to win. Winning will be a byproduct of me running a successful campaign. Running a successful campaign is to bring awareness to some of the most pertinent issues that are easily forgotten in bureaucracy:

1) Students’ mental health is a concern. As a campus minister, I witness the byproduct of our school system on a first-hand basis. I have the privilege to engage with students who have graduated from Princeton High School. Many of them are exasperated even before enrolling in a class.

2) Another concern is learning how to address the ever-increasing racial dynamics among students. Here’s my dilemma: In what specific ways are we preparing our students to engage with one another and to develop meaningful relationships despite students’ racial, socioeconomic and cultural differences?

3) My last concern is to create a platform for every student to have equal representation on Princeton’s School Board. Therefore, regardless if I win or if I lose, I want to have these and other issues held at the forefront of the conversation by our board and among candidates.

Jenny Ludmer

Caldwell Drive

Please tell us where you are from originally, your academic and professional background, your age, and when and why you moved to Princeton.

Raised in Virginia, I earned my undergraduate degree in biology from James Madison University, and then headed to the west coast, where I received my masters degree in physiology from UCLA. My professional work experience spans both coasts and includes scientific research, analysis, and writing at UCLA, Duke, and Lockheed Martin. Six years ago my husband’s work brought us to Princeton and now, as a parent at the age of 44, I am an active and enthusiastic volunteer for my children’s schools and the community.

Please identify your spouse or significant other, their occupation or employer, and ages of your children. Where have your children attended school, and where are they now?

My husband of 14 years, Phil, is a pediatric anesthesiologist at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. My two daughters will be entering second and fourth grades at Littlebrook, while my son began at Littlebrook and will now be entering seventh grade at John Witherspoon. All three children will eventually attend Princeton High School, and I am committed to seeing all schools grow and strengthen.

What activities or organizations have you been involved in that relate to education or the local community, either here or other places you have lived? What caused you to first get involved?

Since moving to Princeton, I have thrown myself into numerous projects for my children’s schools as well as the community at large. Many of these projects were selected either for the challenge they brought to my life or because of my interest in promoting sustainability.

• Science Expo Coordinator, Littlebrook PTO: Every year I lead the annual Science Expo — a full day where science completely takes over the school. Working with our devoted science teacher to recruit and organize about 40 parents and community members is no small feat, but it’s worth it.
• Garden Coordinator, Littlebrook PTO: Also at Littlebrook, I have been a champion for our wonderful school garden, not only assisting in its year-round care but also promoting the garden to parents and recruiting volunteers.
• Green Team Member, Littlebrook PTO: Littlebrook’s Green Team is relatively new, and I’ve been thrilled to work with teachers, parents and administrators to lead its rapid growth. Last year Littlebrook won the statewide TREX Recycling Challenge, and this year we filed for certification through Sustainable Jersey for Schools.
• Former Chess Coordinator, Littlebrook Elementary PTO: For several years, I promoted the after-school chess club to parents; organized about 60 kids into three classes based on ability level; recruited and managed chess instructors; and moved the paper registration process online.
• VP for Communications, John Witherspoon PTO: Excited to learn about the many activities offered by the middle school, I joined the JW PTO board last year and have enjoyed promoting these events to parents.
• District Green Team Committee Member: After learning that the district’s first attempt to bring in composting did not succeed, I joined this committee and worked with others to successfully roll-out our new composting contract at every PPS school.
• Complete Streets Committee Member, Princeton: As community activist, I currently work with eight other citizens and town officials to coordinate, monitor, evaluate, and provide advice to the Mayor, Council, and the Planning Board concerning implementation of the Complete Streets Policy.
• Sustainability Leader, The Jewish Center: As a member of the Social Action Committee, I’ve been delighted to work with others to bring a modern waste system to the TJC and continuously work to educate the public.

Why are you running for school board? In up to 300 words, please identify the issues that are of particular concern to you, or that you feel are of greatest importance to the community.

Our district has many accomplishments to celebrate and yet still numerous challenges. Several issues have been pushed into the spotlight recently, and it’s important we seek meaningful solutions.

First, a recent study illuminated the high levels of stress and homework experienced by many of our high school students. In response the school has proposed a number of changes: a later start time, longer breaks, and the shift towards block scheduling. I applaud this proposal, and would like to see further assessment to ensure its efficacy. In addition, we must strengthen communication with parents, provide students greater access to teachers and counselors, and support children with falling grades.

Second, in recent years, students have brought to light disturbing incidents of bias, while statistics also show alarming differences in disciplinary procedures. These unfortunate trends need to be addressed by teaching racial literacy to all, including staff and teachers. In addition, we need to analyze our hiring practices, student advancement practices, and curriculum to ensure that our schools reflect our community and its values.

Third, the district is undergoing a period of growth and I consider this a welcome opportunity to bring change. However, any growth we initiate must come with buy-in from all of the stakeholders in the community and must not be at the expense of the dated infrastructure we already have. Careful consideration of all options is necessary.

Finally, apart from the ongoing litigation between the Princeton Public Schools and the Princeton Charter School, we must address the divide in our community. To begin this process, we need to establish a “bipartisan” commission, which can establish a missing dialogue between the two sides.

I invite the public to learn more about my views on these issues and more at LudmerForBOE.org.


Julie Ramirez

Stone Cliff Road

Please tell us where you are from originally, your academic and professional background, your age, and when and why you moved to Princeton. What activities or organizations have you been involved in that relate to education or the local community, either here or other places you have lived?

I am a product of the public schools in New York City. I credit my quality public school education from elementary through high school with giving me the foundation to attend Tufts University in Massachusetts, where I graduated magna cum laude with a BA in political science and Asian studies. I continued my studies at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs, where I earned a master’s degree in international affairs with a focus on international political economy.

As a project manager for more than 20 years, both at Goldman Sachs and, for the past year, the Office of Finance and Treasury at Princeton University, I have spent my entire career collaborating with diverse teams and developing efficient processes designed to solve complex problems and achieve real results. When there is something that needs to be done, it’s my job to figure out how to do it, using whatever resources are available. I have a reputation for tenacity; I ask a lot of questions from a range of people to gather information in order to make informed and balanced decisions.

Outside of work I have volunteered for 13 years with Special Olympics of New Jersey, and I am a founding member of the NY Friends of CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy). CURE is the leading non-governmental agency fully committed to funding research in epilepsy. Both organizations are close to my heart as my brother, who had developmental disabilities, was a Special Olympics athlete and struggled with epilepsy his whole life. I believe that my experience and considerable problem-solving skills, combined with my passionate commitment to organizations that support and celebrate people of differing abilities, will allow me to make uniquely valuable contributions as a member of the Board of Education.

Please identify your spouse or significant other, their occupation or employer, and ages of your children. Where have your children attended school, and where are they now?

My husband, Robert, grew up in Miami and earned his BS from the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army, and received an MBA from Columbia University, where we met. He currently works at NRG Energy in Princeton.

When my family moved to Princeton in 2003 from Long Island, we had two little boys and were attracted to the wonderful sense of community, the town’s diversity, and the quality school system. My daughters were born here, and all of my four children attend Princeton Public Schools. Michael is a senior and Jason a sophomore at Princeton High School. Ava is a seventh grader at John Witherspoon and Mia is a fifth grader at Johnson Park.

Why are you running for school board? In up to 300 words, please identify the issues that are of particular concern to you, or that you feel are of greatest importance to the community.

If elected to the board, I will focus on the following:

Preserving Excellence: I am a firm believer in the value of public education and the benefits that public schools bring to our Princeton community. Our district continues to face pressures from an expanding student population, limits on revenue, and increased diversions of scarce funds due to the charter school expansion. We must seek out efficiencies and ways to control the school budget without impacting the quality of education that our schools deliver. I will work to preserve the invaluable, precious asset to our community that our public schools are and ensure that the school board serves as a rigorously responsible steward of taxpayer funds.

Inclusiveness: Schools are an integral part of our community as they form the foundation of learning that will stay with our children throughout their lives. The schools are obligated to serve all of the children of Princeton regardless of race, religion, educational attainment, income, special needs, or other personal characteristics.

We should be leveraging the diversity among our community to help our students learn from each other both in and out of the classroom. I will work on your behalf to ensure that the school community is supportive and the environments are welcoming of all children, in every school. Our Superintendent Steve Cochrane repeatedly states that they are all our children. As such, none of them should feel lost, isolated, ignored, or left behind.

Student Wellness: The Princeton High School survey gave us a window into the problematic climate experienced by many of our high school students. The feedback that emerged from the survey is troubling and cannot be ignored. However, I feel that a quick, reactionary response to the challenges and pressures the high school students are experiencing can do more harm than good. I will work to promote thoughtful, evidence-based, and student-centered policy changes that focus on the serious problems, without detracting from the school’s many strengths. My goal, and the goal of the board, should be to nurture our children so that they are fully engaged in their learning, able to thrive and reach their potential, both in academics and all other aspects of their busy lives.

For more information about who I am and how I will serve you, please visit @julieforPrincetonPublicSchools on Facebook or e-mail julie4PPS@gmail.com.


Michele Tuck-Ponder

Laurel Circle

Please tell us where you are from originally, your academic and professional background, your age, and when and why you moved to Princeton.

I was born in New York City and grew up in Teaneck, Bergen County, where I was one of the first children in America to be bused to integrate the public schools in my town. After graduating from Teaneck High School, I attended Northwestern University, earning a degree in journalism, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where I earned a law degree in 1983.

After my appointment as assistant counsel to Governor Jim Florio in 1991, I purchased a home at Griggs Farm in order to be closer to my job in Trenton.

I am a former mayor of Princeton Township, have served as manager of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, executive director of the Women’s Fund of New Jersey, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan, interim executive director of the YWCA of Eastern Union County, assistant counsel to Governor Jim Florio, assistant director of the New Jersey Division on Women and New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, and congressional aide to former U.S. Representative Louis Stokes and the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg. I was also was a community builder fellow with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Camden, and have served as a lecturer at Princeton, the College of New Jersey, and Rutgers.

Please identify your spouse or significant other, their occupation or employer, and ages of your children. Where have your children attended school, and where are they now?

Rhinold Lamar Ponder, an attorney in private practice, is my husband. We have two children: Jamaica, age 18, a 2017 PHS graduate, is a freshman at Northwestern University in Illinois who attended Community Park and John Witherspoon. William, age 10, is a rising fifth grader at Community Park. Due to a hearing loss, he attended Mercer County’s Joseph Cappello School as a preschooler.

What activities or organizations have you been involved in that relate to education or the local community, either here or other places you have lived? What caused you to first get involved?

I served for six years on the Princeton Township Committee (1994-1999), including three years as mayor. I also served four years as chair of the Princeton Township Democratic Committee. I am a member of the Princeton United Methodist Church and served as co-chair of its governing body. I am chair of the United Front Against Riverblindness, a global NGO, and secretary of the board of Morven Museum and Gardens. For four years I co-hosted “Reed and Ponder,” a public affairs program on Princeton TV30. I served on the Princeton YWCA, Girl Scouts of Delaware-Raritan, New Jersey After 3, the Center for Non-Profits and co-chaired the NJ Food Marketing Task Force.

In Princeton Public Schools, I have been a class parent, and presented several programs on black history in my children’s classrooms, including a Kwanzaa celebration and a lesson on “Black Lives Matter” during the past school year. I have been a fundraiser for the PHS girls’ basketball team and served on the Superintendent’s “Athletics 2.0” advisory committee. Most recently, I chaired the 4/5th grade social at Community Park School and served as the parent helper for an afterschool enrichment program.

Why are you running for school board? In up to 300 words, please identify the issues that are of particular concern to you, or that you feel are of greatest importance to the community.

I am running for the Board of Education because of my commitment to serving the community. I have the background, experience, unique perspective, and knowledge to contribute toward moving us closer to fulfilling the PPS mission to prepare all of our students to lead lives of joy and purpose as knowledgeable, creative, and compassionate citizens of a global society. My issues of concern include:

1. Educational Equality: For the 26 years I have lived in Princeton, there have been numerous conversations about the so-called “Minority Achievement Gap.” Despite numerous attempts, it appears that we have not effectively addressed the issue. I would argue that the achievement gap is not solely attributable to race, but socio-economic status and opportunity.

2. Facilities: As a former elected official, I have a particular interest in infrastructure and facilities. I oversaw the feasibility study, design, and financing for the Princeton Municipal Complex, as well as involvement in the financing and construction of the new library building and am very interested in working on how we ensure that we have adequate and appropriate facilities to support our educational mission, without unduly burdening taxpayers.

3. Budget: The school budget is $95.6 million. The board is considering the purchase of Westminster Choir College and a bond ordinance to pay for it. The Charter School has obtained approval to expand its student body, which will require increased funding. The potential impact on taxpayers is significant, and I am interested in taking a closer look at the budget and considering alternatives to increased spending over time.

4. Restorative justice: Sixteen percent of students in PPS are black and/or Hispanic, but according to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights 50 percent of out of school suspensions in Princeton Public Schools are of black and Hispanic students. Clearly, this disproportionate application of discipline must be addressed, and the district should consider a new model of discipline that does not result in kids missing school.