One more candidate for the Board of Education and a brand new lawsuit against the Princeton Public Schools are the latest developments in the continuing turmoil surrounding school board issues.
The new candidate is Brian J. McDonald, vice president for development at Princeton University from 2002 to 2010, and now an artist and consultant to nonprofits. Until last year he was a member of the town’s Citizens’ Finance Advisory Committee. His youngest child is a sophomore at Princeton High School and two older children have also gone through the Princeton school system.
McDonald joins challengers Mary Clurman and Daniel Dart, along with incumbents Betsy Baglio and Dafna Kendal, in seeking three open board seats. Board President Patrick Sullivan did not file for re-election and will step down at the end of the year.
In a statement announcing his candidacy, McDonald said “our schools are now at a critical point in their history as they need to make important decisions about aging facilities; issues pertaining to the health, safety, security and fair treatment of our students; increasing enrollment that is already resulting in overcrowding; and an operating budget that is under considerable stress.”
He added that “our schools continue to struggle with persistent problems of racism and economic inequities that our society struggles with, and not all of our children are being educated as well as they should be. Similarly, for too long the mental and physical health and wellness of our high school students have not been sufficiently addressed. I am encouraged by the steps the district is beginning to take to address these and other long-standing issues. It is imperative that these initiatives continue despite the financial challenges we have to overcome.”
Regarding the referendum that will be on the November ballot, “it provides an opportunity for the district to address urgent and emerging needs and I hope that it passes,” McDonald said.
To address the concerns for more transparency and community involvement in decision-making McDonald said that he would propose two citizens’ committees to advise the board: “one modeled after the town’s Citizens’ Finance Advisory Committee, on which I served for seven years, and another to support the district’s efforts to construct, renovate, and maintain the schools and other district facilities.”