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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Princeton School Board {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The Princeton Board of Education consists of nine unpaid members, who serve three-year terms. While the Board is legally responsible for school programs and operations, it delegates authority for the district's daily operations to the Superintendent of Schools. Individual Board members may bring any question, concern or suggestion to a Board Committee or full Board Meeting for discussion, but no action can be taken without full Board approval. Individual Board members do not exercise authority over or direct staff. In general, the following are the most important functions of the Board: Setting and maintaining policies that define the district's values and expectations Approving the Annual School Budget Representing the community's educational philosophy Hiring and annual evaluation of the Superintendent Supporting and implementing the district's Strategic Plan

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  • Candidate picture

    Beth Behrend
    (NP)

  • Candidate picture

    Adam Bierman
    (NP)

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    Hendricks Davis
    (NP)

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    Jean Durbin
    (NP)

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    William Hare
    (NP)

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    Paul Johnson
    (NP)

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    Karen Lemon
    (NP)

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    Michele Tuck-Ponder
    (NP)

Biographical Information

What are the most important factors for student success, and how will you, as a school board member, ensure that those factors are addressed?

Do you, as a member of the public, feel that you have a good handle on the district’s budget and on how the referendum is going?

Do you have any concerns regarding equity during the pandemic and whether all students have access to the internet?

What are we learning from the pandemic that could change how schools operate in the future?

What are three questions that you would ask a candidate for district superintendent? What would you hope to learn about the candidate from the responses?

Campaign Email behrendforboe@gmail.com
Website https://instagram.com/bethfortheboard?igshid=1bkjngvsvfrzc
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/BehrendforBoard
I serve as Board President, but write here in my capacity as a private citizen; my views do not represent those of the Board.

Students learn most effectively and find success when they feel welcome, affirmed, engaged, safe and comfortable in our schools. As a Board member, I have done my best to keep students at the center in overseeing the administration of our schools, and I would continue to do so in a second term.

During my first term, we delivered concrete results for students by:

Launching free Pre-K, including 3-year olds and a dual-language Spanish class; Creating two elementary early intervention coaching positions; Initiating and expanding a K-12 racial literacy curriculum; Adopting a restorative justice approach to discipline, reducing suspensions by 70%; Adopting a later school start time to reduce stress and improve teen health, with strong preliminary evidence of success; Adding HVAC and classrooms, expanding nursing facilities and improving building safety, maintenance and cleanliness; Feeding 500 students and their families during the pandemic; Ensuring all students have equal access to technology through a revenue-neutral device initiative and, through a donation, providing WiFi to over 275 families and childcare scholarships; and Stabilizing district finances, creating a cushion against future financial uncertainties.

The most important next step, on behalf of students, is for the Board to secure an experienced permanent superintendent. I would work with my board colleagues to hire, partner with and support this key administrator -- setting clear goals that build on and continue progress, with a focus on equity, cultural literacy and student wellness. We know, and our students have clearly told us, that we can do better in these areas.

I would work with my Board colleagues to:

Monitor, measure and ensure accountability for the multiple equity initiatives currently underway to determine what is working for our students and what isn’t; Develop student-focused goals with deliverables and timelines, informed by surveys and reviews such as the Stanford Challenge Success survey (to be given to our middle school students this year) and an ongoing special education review; Ensure that our most vulnerable students are mentored, supported with summer programs and prepared for success from their earliest years in the District; Continue to upgrade and enhance our learning spaces by building four new PHS classrooms, renovating guidance and completing the PHS field restroom facility, making our fields more accessible and sanitary for athletes and visitors; Plan creatively, collaboratively and cost-effectively to accommodate rising enrollments; Ensure tax dollars work most effectively for our students while advocating for additional sources of revenue and legislative changes to support our schools’ continued excellence.
Yes, I’ve been on the Board for three years, and I’ve learned:

The Board is responsible for educating over 3800 students, with over 700 employees and an approximately $100 million budget.

PPS revenues are funded nearly 85% by Princeton property taxes, 6% by Cranbury tuition (set by the State), and 7% by State aid.

PPS costs consist of approximately 77% salaries and benefits (under 3 union contracts), 7% Princeton Charter School tuition (set by the State) and 16% for transportation, maintenance, out-of-district special ed tuition, procurement and other expenses.

When I came to Board leadership in January 2019, the District’s fund balance (providing cash flow and cushion) was at critically low levels due to an imbalance between costs and revenues. Salaries and benefits were growing by 4% and charter school costs were up by 14% a year over the previous two years, while general fund tax levy growth was capped at 2%. That spring, we were forced to cut staff, despite rising enrollments (up 10% over 6 years) in order to balance the operating budget, which is required by law. Later that summer, after advocating together with fellow districts, the District received good news of an unexpected increase in State aid for extraordinary special education costs of around $1.4 million (still underfunded by over 40%), which helped replenish fund balance and maintenance reserves.

In August 2019, the Board hired a talented new business administrator who has helped increase transparency and improve district finances. The Board moved to “priority-based” budgeting which requires a fresh look at spending to ensure that budget allocations more closely mirror District goals and priorities. This past spring, pre-Covid, the Board balanced the 2020-21 budget by finding over $500,000 in recurring savings through changes to the prescription drug plan, prioritization of spending and new purchasing controls, with more savings initiatives in process. Recently, PPS announced nearly $3 million in savings (unaudited) due to remote learning in the spring of 2020 and other cost reductions, balanced against at least $1.4 million in Covid-related costs for school restart, referendum project costs that were bid above cost estimates (the District must accept lowest bidder), and other unbudgeted deferred maintenance. In addition, PPS faces significant uncertainty over the next few years with respect to nearly $6.5 million in annual State funding.

The $26.9 million of referendum projects approved by taxpayers in December 2018 are moving forward, with:

HVAC upgrades at Riverside and PHS complete; HVAC at LB and CP nearing completion, JP scheduled for next summer; Security upgrades at all schools nearing completion; 4 new classrooms, HVAC and expanded nurses suite at PUMS nearing completion; PHS second floor to the old gym and 4 new classrooms, new athletic field restroom, underway or soon to begin; and PHS guidance renovation and new “grab and go” dining - next year.
Yes, I am deeply concerned about our students because the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities in our society. It has also showed us how much families rely on public schools for basic necessities beyond education, including food, childcare and access to nurses. Last spring, across New Jersey, between 100,000 and 200,000 public school students were not connected to their schools. In the Princeton Public Schools, however, we made sure every child was connected and fed. When we pivoted to remote learning, our staff distributed classroom computers and mobile hotspots to all students in need. PPS sent school buses out into the community on a weekly basis, safely distributing breakfast and lunch to 500 students, and adding dinners for families with the help of financial support from community partner Send Hunger Packing Princeton.

Many of our students have suffered by not having in-person contact with their teachers. For example, some of our youngest learners and special education students were not able to learn remotely or get services that need to be provided in-person. I pledge to work with my Board colleagues to ensure these vulnerable learners are prioritized to return as soon as we are able to begin in-person learning.

In July, the Board approved the lending of district-owned devices to every student, ensuring that all students have equal access to learning during the uncertain months ahead. This initiative was revenue-neutral, structured through a lease-sale arrangement using five years of technology budget, which would have otherwise been used to purchase classroom devices. The Board considered the pros and cons of a “bring your own device” approach and was advised against this option by outside technology experts (consulted on a pro bono basis) because a BYOD model has not worked for other districts and there are issues with classroom management, tech support, and pushing District-licensed software to personal devices. In addition, personal devices cannot be used for mandatory standardized testing.

Last week, the District announced that an anonymous donor has given $250,000 to ensure all families have appropriate WiFi connectivity this Fall. The gift also provides scholarships for childcare.
We’ve learned our staff can move quickly to respond to a crisis; our educators have a wide range of experience with technology; there are new and better ways to teach that offer tools for future differentiated instruction; some children function better in remote, but most students are suffering from a lack of connection, relationship, and social interaction; we now think differently about what is most important for schools to provide; technology offers new opportunities to better use personnel and space (ie. there’s no need for special computer or architecture labs), making it easier for students to work in groups, remotely; some courses may be better taught online, with a flipped classroom or other virtual tools; students can adapt more quickly than adults and we can learn from them and give them more agency in their own learning; our most vulnerable learners suffer the most from crisis and disruption; community partnership is essential to finding solutions and addressing equity issues.

What is your definition of a “successful” student and how should an educational program be structured to best meet the needs of all learners? Provide an example of demonstrated success in the area of equity and inclusion.

Do you have any experience with management and culture change in a large organization and could you provide specific examples? How would you define yourself as a leader?

What is your experience in dealing with the budgetary challenges of running a public school district in a rising cost environment with capped revenues? When have you come up with “out of the box” solutions to financial or resource challenges?

We need a permanent superintendent who:

Shares our community’s values around equity and inclusion, with a demonstrated track record of success in this area; Understands the opportunity and challenges of public education in a community with extensive resources and wide income disparities; Has experience leading large organizations, can manage and develop people, and can generate followership, trust and loyalty; can inspire, provide unifying vision and effect culture change; Views curriculum and content through a forward-looking lens (21st century learning); Understands, can communicate clearly and be creative regarding the complex choices and challenges of public school finance; Is a problem-solver, takes responsibility and works hard; Loves and is energized by the work of educating children.

Campaign Email ababierman1@gmail.com
Facebook Page Adam Bierman For Princeton Board of Education https://www.facebook.com/ADAM-Bierman-for-Princeton-Board-of-Education-1169265706572070
Not one size fits all in regards to success. Each district has its own unique challenges of balancing budgets, priorities, and politics. I feel it is an interconnected web consisting of parental involvement, student motivation, and teacher instruction. In these connections you incrementally build a successful culture, one that becomes systematic. So when new staff and students enter into the program, the expectations are in place and everyone understands them, and can easily plug themselves.

The benefits of a school-wide discipline plan? A systematic plan of discipline benefits institutional learning for students. Expectations are communicated clearly to staff, students and parents and are all around understood and reinforced.

These standards, for example, can be most helpful especially for teachers, who use these alongside their usual teaching methods to help them develop better relationships with students in the classroom. It’s important when working with students to highlight their abilities and support their academic motivations in a positive light. We all remember the teachers of our youth for a variety of reasons. Instructors have to walk the delicate balance of advocacy and control of the classroom, all while juggling what sometimes seems like an endless array of methodologies and outside influences in order to help students learn. We need to support these healthy teaching practices, which include the following: adjusting to better understand and service different learning styles and interests, being an active listener, helping students to establish goals, and encouraging forward thinking to final success.

With all that being said, however, it is important not to let institutional complacency set in. I am not advocating change for change's sake, or blindly following the latest educational trends. Instead I support the ability to be flexible and adapt to the population’s changing needs, whether it be introducing better academic practices, new technology, etc. Having robust programs for students from all walks of life is vital to a school district. From special needs students to the passionate savant taking classes at Princeton University, early childhood education is very important to provide the building blocks of future life/academic success.

As a BOE member you address these factors by placing administrators in charge to carry out the mission I stated above. Assisting them so they can focus on running the school, by funding programs that work and fixin or ending those that fail.
As of today , I hope so. I do not know all details yet, to make a qualified , fair judgement. The 2019 construction-related problems at Riverside Elementary School that cost $27,000 to resolve, and required a delay in school opening, highlight the need to focus on implementing the recently approved $27 million referendum, rather than plan for a new facilities referendum. I know I am very wary. 1. As my construction friend told me there is an inherent conflict between the project manager and construction workers who are being paid by the hour or day. Sometimes they might just work a little slower I want to trust , but need to verify! 2. There is a lack of transparency and trust . An open letter from one board member (Planet Princeton 1/16/20) The BOE member “is extremely concerned that there is a lack of respect and transparency towards some school board members. “The attempts to prevent board members from having access to board information are unethical and undermine the trust voters have in the Princeton Board of Education,” Some political forces on the BOE want to stifle critical analysis and oversight of other board members. Going so far as wasting taxpayers dollars on trying to censor a board member who was speaking as a private citizen and writing about non - privileged information . Then after the 2020-2021 budget was adopted , board members learned later in the month about an estimated $1 million in cost savings due to remote learning. How can a BOE member make responsible financial decisions when key information is withheld from them? Unacceptable behavior and surely not living up to our progressive values 3.My institutional memory is of “less than optimal” past BOE referendum's The BOE is a volunteer, part time position. Many have little experience with the complexities of construction planning and finance With all due respect to the BOE collectively (at least in the past ) they do not have the acuity to adequately vet , carry out long term , large scale facilities projectes. A major example was the large scale referunderm of 2005. Which resulted in shoddy construction, over budget and dysfunctional HVAC The consequences of we are still grappling with today

4.. 2017 BOE with (some members still on today) tried to pass an ill conceived , bloated 137 million dollar referendum . Which I feel I played a small part in reducing to the current 27 million dollar . I and others felt it was like the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. History repeating itself , tragically !. See my 3rd paragraph

5.. The same construction firm EPIC that managed the dysfunctional 2005 referendum, has the bid for the current 27 million referendum. Current Epic officials said they were not involved with the earlier botch referendum, That they have “lessons learned” when it comes to highly regulated public school construction management. If I was on the board , I would have erred against having them getting the bid.
Yes the pandemic has laid bare the digital divide . Many families do not have functional computers/mobile devices. Students have to find hot spots in cities where it can be very dangerous to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Students have to quit school so they can provide child care for their working class family. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck , if someone can work regularly , the family does not eat and may find themselves on the street Students with disabilities suffering and regressing. Less affluent families have money for tutors , which put even more stress on families

Depending how long the pandemic continues , some innovations born out of the C19 emergency *For districts that have the money, and have the political savvy, will to push for change- Using faster 5g technology , where students can learn anywhere , anytime With different modalities Such as virtual reality ,, live tv broadcasts, facetime interviews with a research subject , As a complement to traditional in classroom experience. Flexible hybrid instruction would be integrated into the daily life of school. *For students who fall on the wrong side of the digital divide , Credit recovery competency based learning , without a traditional inflexible marking period. To fit their schedule and vital family responsibilities Private and public partnership would be very important hopefully to work together to build the digital infrastructure to allow this to happen. Or this digital divide will worsen * lesson learned: Archived and updated plans/ best practices how to deal with the next pandemic. * Keeping BOE meetings on ZOOM . This allows more constituents to participate . This is true equity to me

Picking a new superintendent is so important. .In terms of leadership , stability . Time , energy , money is put into the selection. Still the average superintendent tenure accord to what reports you believe is 3-6 years

Why are you considering or why did you leave your current position? The reasons can give the employer ready information to evaluate a prospective candidate. You might be able to find out Did they leave on their own terms and still in touch with their past employers Or did they resign and maybe had performance / ethical issues because they wanted a new challenge , felt unappreciated or having a history of leaving a job on impulse (The person might just jump ship at 3 years, starting the expensive , time consuming process of picking a new superintendent) What qualifies you for this position? Do you have the educational background, the proper credentials, or professional experience needed to assume a job of this magnitude and scope? This would tell me that they have thoroughly prepared , researched and can articulate how their job experience fit the specifications laid out in the job advertisement Skills they will need for a particular superintendent job Have you researched our school district and the surrounding communities? What did you find out? Understand the social traditions, expectations of the school, any outstanding issues that have to be addressed now. Your skill set, temperament , type of institutional support needed , your career trajectory might be great in one district,. But not the right fit for the to job you are interviewing for Even the best superintendent will not succeed in some communities , that might have dysfunctional boards, hostile teachers ie being set up for failure

Campaign Email hsd232@gmail.com
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/1017802845322573/
The most important factor in the success of each student in the Princeton School District is the understanding and acceptance of its vision, mission, values and expectations by the students, parent/guardians, teachers, administrators, staff, and community members. Growing consciousness of who they are and what and why they are a student is critically important. Successful students will become "agents" of their own educational process in partnership with teachers, parents, counselors, mentors and other stakeholders. Success is not only defined and achieved in academics but also in the the student's social-emotional growth and development (knowledge and respect of self and others--moral/character development); intellectual and cultural curiosity (critical thinking and analysis); attainment of personal learning goals and experience leading to certificates of achievement, diplomas and certifications, and commendation by the whole Princeton community. Along with these foundational understandings of success there are other important factors: 1) continuity of educational care, engagement, focus, and support of students that begins prenatally, is carried forward throughout each student's life. Enrollment in universal pre-k and high quality early education; attainment of benchmarks and assessment and addressing of students progress, needs of support, intervention, resources) at every level of school; 2) teachers, parents and students' expectation for, and appreciation of, achievement of their highest and best level of performance academically, intellectually, personally, creatively and communally; 3) a twenty-first century curriculum and ethnically and experientially diverse, empowered, knowledgeable, connected and creative SUPERINTENDENT and ADMINISTRATORS, TEACHERS, COUNSELORS and STAFF who know and use innovative approaches and the broad and rich resources of the district and community; high quality buildings, campuses and other settings for education, learning, growth and formation of the whole student-person.

As a member of the BoE, I will: 1) work with the other members, superintendent, continuing staff/teachers, students, and the community to attain a consensus or mutual understanding of the vision, mission, values, and norms of Princeton Public Schools; 2) actively participate in the interviewing and hiring of the new superintendent and in that process understand their vision and mission for excellence in education and success of each Princeton student; 3) understand, advocate for, and carefully oversee the finances and physical resources of the school district and will support and carefully guide the whole community through the processes of student population growth, diversification and "equity-making"; 4) work with the community-public and private institutions, non-profits, businesses, volunteers and the students and families themselves to garner all necessary support to make PPS an even more wonderful "educating community."
As a member of the community I believe I have a "lay person's" understanding and knowledge of the school district's budget. I know that I I will become "well versed" in the fine details and granular points of the financing of education in Princeton and the state. I acknowledge and accept that (currently) all school districts have a two-percent annual cap on budgets and must live within them or find ways in which necessary or desired programmatic enhancements can be obtained. I also know and have advocated (as President of Advocates for Children of New Jersey) on behalf of the special financing that Abbott districts have received. I believe the 2% cap and Abbott funding are indications of a need forA the people of the State of New Jersey for study the broad issue of the funding of education that is--for every child in the state--exceeds "thorough and efficient" and climbs to "excellent."

I believe the capital improvements being undertaken through the "scaled back" referendum that was passed in 2018 are moving apace with the access, safety and ventilation improvements to most buildings and additional classroom/instructional space in some. The corona virus pandemic could prove that the Board of Education and, therefore the community, was either prescient or may have not fully anticipated building improvement needs. I believe the longer term future (and vision!) for education in the Princeton School district may require new construction and or renovated, higher quality space for education programming. As a member of the board I will utilize my professional experience to help the Board, staff, and entire community arrive at agreement on the short, medium and long-term capital needs of the district.
YES and YES! The rapid movement to "virtual" education has exposed deficits and gaps in access to educational resources through the internet where some students (and parents) don't own or have access to (our great library is closed!) computers or other devices through which instruction is being conveyed; may have access to appropriate/adequate home-based classroom or learning space; and don't have a human being (even with a mask on!) to provide guidance, support, coaching and encouragement in the distance learning process. I agree with the decision made by the BOE to provide all students an up-to-date computer. This action sets the bar for equity across the school district. This is a "chicken in every pot" democratic (small d) equity action. The further effort of the district to secure good internet access for students/families that currently don't have it should also be applauded as a great example of the the district reaching out to the broader community for support to address critically important needs and fill gaps equitably. YAY!

There will be other disruptions to our lives in the future and indeed there are current situations that could benefit if there were a trained core of volunteer tutors, who are certified, screened and vetted, known by parents, guardians and students who could be attached to any individual student or group where the need exists to assist the assigned classroom teacher when the student is learning remotely and in theclassroom. As a member of the board I will support the superintendent in pursuing all avenues--including the sharing of internet resources and physical space with other institutions and organizations-- that lead to excellence and equity in education through the development and utilization of the wealth of resources that exist in Princeton.
It is not only from the covid-19 pandemic but also from other equally traumatic and disruptive events that we could and must learn how to operate and BE an "educating community": *the televised explicit racist violence perpetrated on black and brown people; *the peaceful demonstrations and actions for justice also broadcast into our lives and being experienced firsthand in Princeton; *the violence that erupts in and around some demonstrations; *the resurgence of white nationalism and supremacy supported by the administration *the denigration of democracy and further withering of democratic norms, rule of law, civility, empathy and care *the continued degradation of the environment and our local, national and global habitat ....all of these things are creating "pandemic level trauma" especially in children and young people. My greatest concern for the Princeton School District is that we are not equipping students to understand and deal with the traumas that are impacting them and us all. I believe as the schools reopen the whole district, parents/guardians, counselors and indeed the students themselves should be 1) be aware of and paying special attention to the social-emotional status of everyone in the school; 2) know and have access to essential support resources; 3) have additional resources at the ready; 4) employ trained volunteers as allies, advocates, "assessors" of the figurative "temperature" or climate of each school and classroom; 5) provide ways for students, teachers, staff and families to be and learn in and experience NATURE and the outdoors; 6) provide ways for students to REFLECT on life today and to envision their lives and the life of the community they want to create and live in 50 years from today. In our local, national and global community we should be learning new ways of operating and BEING an "educating community. "
After careful and thorough review their curriculum vitae; thorough vetting through their formal references and others with knowledge of the applicant/candidate:

1. Why and how did you become an educator and what do you see as the gifts you bring to being an educational leader (teacher, principal, superintendent)? How do you think your staff and peers see you as an educator? 2. Please tell me the story of the most challenging, difficult or painful experience you've had as an educator. How did you deal with it. What was the outcome? What impact did it have on you as an educator? 3. Have you worked in a "good" school district? What did you contribute to making it so? What would you have done, if you were the superintendent, to make that school district "great"? What is your vision of the school system you'd like to lead?

I hope to learn from these and other questions asked by members of the BOE who the candidate is as a person; how he/she/they see themselves as an educator and leader of an educational community; their knowledge of self and others; their knowledge of best and innovative 21st century curriculum and educational practices; management style; coping resources and ability and what they know about and hope to bring to the Princeton Public Schools and community.
Campaign Email jdurbin4boe@gmail.com
Website n/a
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/JDurbin4BOE
Twitter n/a
Student success is a broad term, and there is no doubt it means different things to different people. I think some of the critical elements of student success include, but are not limited to: 1) students being prepared to live lives of purpose and joy—prepared to pursue their dreams and passions, whatever that looks like for them; 2) differentiated instruction with high expectations and rigor that permits each child to learn and grow while fostering curiosity and a love of learning; 3) a kind and welcoming atmosphere that signals without doubt that each child is seen and valued; 4) excellent teachers and staff that embrace creative teaching with purpose, including culturally responsive teaching, and a caring commitment to all of our kids; 5) opportunities for our kids to grow, learn, lead, try, fail and succeed; and 6) meaningful instruction that fosters authentic dialogue about our world and the challenges we face—this, instead of teaching to tests and supporting the “Race to Nowhere” (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1437364/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt). I think about these things as educating our children throughout a collaborative journey and not a competitive race.

As a member of the Board, I would strive to ensure that we have equity across the board in our schools. This means every child—regardless of ability, disability, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, income, citizenship, religion, or sexual orientation—has the tools they need to succeed and learn. I think of equity as equal access with equal outcomes. As a board member I would support equity within our schools by: 1) hiring an experienced superintendent with strong management skills and a demonstrated track record of advancing equity, access and inclusion; 2) hiring excellent staff and teachers that reflect the diversity within our schools and community; 3) conducting comprehensive curriculum, program and policy reviews to ensure that we are using current, thoughtful, balanced texts and resources and that our policies do not inadvertently adversely affect any group or class of individuals in our community; 4) ensuring that we recognize and defeat past patterns of destructive behavior especially as they relate to discipline and the unfair labeling of children based on prior conduct or unfair assumptions; 5) ensuring that our administrators and staff have the professional development and tools they need to support equity within each school; and 6) measuring equity outcomes of our initiatives so that we know where we are succeeding and where we are failing. This would include ensuring that we measure growth for each child because we are committed to knowing each child.
Community members without children in our schools may find it challenging to keep up with what’s going on, and so it would be great if the district could increase its public outreach, perhaps through a weekly, biweekly or monthly PPS section in the paper or the option for people to receive regular electronic updates from the schools.

I strongly support working within the 2% tax levy cap. Our district has moved toward priority-based budgeting, which will allow us to be more strategic in the choices we make with regard to funding initiatives that are not linked with fixed costs. Fixed costs include salaries and benefits. The district has already made strides under the new administration in reducing some fixed costs by shifting to a new drug prescription plan for employees. With regard to the $26.9 million referendum, our district is working to complete the initiatives that were approved by the voters. Work is underway and steady progress is being made to complete each initiative, which include: 1) HVAC systems upgrades, new secure entrances to the schools, expanded nursing and guidance facilities, and the improvement of select athletic facilities that were in poor condition and not gender equitable or on par with comparable school districts in Mercer County.

The duty of a school board member is to provide the best education possible that the community can afford, and I would honor this principle by working to ensure that we continue with priority-based budgeting, work within the 2% cap and continue to find cost savings and new sources of revenue to address our priorities. While the district was able to identify cost savings this year due to the schools being closed in the spring, those savings will be directed towards paying for the additional personal protective equipment, supplies and filter upgrades required to effectively address safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I am thankful that the administration under Dr. Galasso’s leadership has been working to address the challenge of internet access and ensuring that every child has what they need. He’s secured a grant for and the staff has been working to ensure that free internet access and hotspots are available to those who need it. This raises an opening for our town and schools to cooperate in the future to provide free internet access for our town’s most vulnerable families. This could be accomplished by providing such access in our public and affordable housing as well as by offering hotspot capability for those in need but who live outside of public or affordable housing.

Another equitable move the board supported at the recommendation of the new administration was the recent 1:1 computer and tablet initiative, where every child will be provided with a device to support learning. This was a cost neutral purchase since the funds were already in the budget and no new money was spent. All students in Pre-K to 1 will have iPads, students in grades 2-5 will have Chromebooks (which only work with internet connections), and students in grades 6-12 will receive MacBooks, purchased at a greatly reduced price of $800 per device. The plan is based on equity for all students, and it increases cost-efficiencies for the district. The IT team will be better able to address technology licensing and support issues on devices owned and managed by the district, and our teachers will not be burdened with technology issues based on incompatible devices or software, permitting them to spend more time on classroom learning and instruction. Every child will start from the same place, using the same software and technology and the same learning platform. This is a significant step towards advancing equity in our schools.

The 1:1 technology initiative also enhances opportunities for future learning and easy access to digital texts/learning materials, which are quickly becoming the norm. Imagine no more heavy backpacks and the sustainable move away from paper! I appreciated the thought behind this initiative, which will provide staff efficiencies and long-term cost savings as well as ensure that our children have the tools they need to succeed in a digital world.
This is a terrific question and the answer will continue to evolve as we go through remote and hybrid learning. It has become abundantly clear what a significant role our schools play in supporting our children from young learners to our most vulnerable learners, including providing social and emotional supports as well as concrete services to address basic needs like hunger. We know it’s absolutely critical to get our schools up and running again so that our children can continue to learn and grow and thrive in our world with some sense of normalcy and connection.

With regard to remote learning and the loss of the social dimension of being together in school, the more we can mix in activities that encourage or support small group or collaborative learning, the more successful remote learning can be. More frequent low stakes quizzing to gauge interest and engagement levels will also help to ensure each child is learning and vested in the learning process. It also eliminates the dread of one large exam that is often perceived as “making or breaking” a child’s “grade” for a course. Teaching to a test is not a successful model for engaging our children in learning with curiosity.

Perhaps we are also learning that some of our instruction can be moved online, such as driver’s education courses and other electives. Moving courses to online modules would enable others in our community to participate, too, which could open another window of communication with the community at large. There are currently plans underway by our teachers and administration to open online racial literacy modules to the community at large in March. This is a wonderful step towards community building within our schools and the greater community.
My top candidates for superintendent would all be highly experienced with a demonstrated record of advancing equity, access and inclusion. I’d ask for examples of how they worked for these principles within their professional lifetime. They would be able to articulate the role of the administration and the role of the board, as well as how they envision the board and administration working together. I’d ask what they view as their top three accomplishments, and how they handled at least two significant challenges (e.g., an unexpected occurrence, a negative issue with great public exposure, a resources question necessitating tough choices).
Campaign Email familyhare@gmail.com
Website www.jlhforboe.com
Facebook Page facebook.com/JohnsonLemonHareForBoE
I am running for Princeton Board of Education on a slate with Paul Johnson and Karen Lemon. We have jointly prepared the following statement to respond to the questions. While we are each of course different, we have come together to run as a slate supporting diversity, affordability, and transparency, and we believe our joint response to the questions demonstrates our commitment.

The most important factors are: Access to quality education and a secure, supportive environment. 1. Commit to address the achievement gap by leveraging best practices as well as exceptional teachers and staff. 2. Commit to acknowledging the diversity of our students and working to ensure their physical and psychological safety. 3. Provide the leadership necessary to build a culture of inclusion and educational excellence necessary to ensure all students realize success.

PPS has had a persistent and consistent achievement /opportunity gap associated with income level and race. We cannot view our district as successful until we have worked to meet the needs of every student. The achievement gap has seen no improvement in recent years as measured by standardized testing in math and English/LA. The Board of Education must provide leadership to finally narrow the gap. It can not remain consistent and complacent and let this gap continue. Upon being sworn into the Board of Education, our first action will be to create an ad hoc committee with the focus of reducing the gap as measured by test results. In two years, we must see positive results. Rather than hire expensive consultants, we propose to turn to our teachers and staff for solutions. We are not the first school district to address these issues and between the input of our teachers and staff, and a review of best educational practices, we will create solutions to ensure success for all our students. Other districts have successfully reduced the achievement gap and there is no excuse for PPS not to have achieved this already.
Yes, we believe we have a good handle on how the referendum is going. The PPS webpage provides a financial summary showing the status as of July 20, 2020. The notes column provides some indication of the progress of each individual project. It would be helpful if the notes included an expected completion date that is updated as each project progresses.

The budget presentation from the May 2020 BOE meeting provides an understanding of where our money is going. We propose a monthly breakout of all covid-19 related expenses and savings for the public to see. For example, the public should see how the switch from hybrid to on-line classes affected our budget.
Yes, we have concerns. PPS, led by the Interim Superintendent, has worked quickly to address many of the gaps in the technology needs of our students in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year. It is essential to make sure all students have the necessary hardware, software, and on-line access to successfully participate in on-line remote learning. In addition to technology, we must also ensure that students have the structure and support they need to work remotely. This is difficult in our diverse community and it is necessary for the school, working with the community, to identify and support any gaps.

Recommendations would include: expanding existing support by the YMCA, identifying tutors and mentors, reaching out to parents to help support them in providing an adequate learning environment in the home, and working with teachers to identify individual student needs (physical and emotional). The teachers will be our daily direct contact with the students, and we need to make sure that “if they see something, they say something” as the saying goes. We cannot let any students fall between the cracks. We cannot allow remote learning to further impact the existing achievement gap. We need to make sure we remain connected with students such that we support them during this tumultuous time. We must look at the whole child and make sure those that need it are receiving food and counseling.
First, is that our schools provide more than just education. Many students and families depend on our schools for much more than education. Schools also address food insecurity, counseling, connections, physical and mental health and wellness.

Technology can enhance learning and provide access beyond the bounds of the previous school experience. PPS needs to embrace this and put a technology roadmap plan in place which will allow students and teachers to leverage its full potential. The technology also provides parents with greater visibility into their child’s learning and needs.

Not all students learn the same way and the more we can work to provide alternate individual teaching/learning methods which enable students to reach their own success, the better we will all be.

And importantly, we need to use this unique situation (or at least unique since 1918) and come up with some creative techniques that will change the district for the better when this is all over. We have seen that when required, this district can come up with creative solutions to address problems. When this pandemic is over, we cannot regress to our old mode of operation. Instead we must be willing to look at the operations of this district with a completely new perspective. We need to focus on how we educate and take it to another level: how can we ensure that each student is fully engaged such that they can’t fall out of the system, and how can we do all of this in a more cost-effective manner.

We must be willing to ask questions about how this district should be operated. For example, what is the role of administrators and supervisors in an on-line learning environment? Should they also be teaching classes? Are there some classes that have been successful during remote learning? Exploring the option of holding some elective courses online, or in a hybrid mode, may negate the need for further expansion of our buildings. When the pandemic ends, PPS should be the example for other school districts. Now is the time for PPS to be a leader rather than a follower.
1. What are examples where you have built a culture of success for students, staff and parents? In particular, examples where you have reduced an achievement gap between different demographic groups of students.

2. Share with me examples of creative leadership where you have addressed issues concerning budgetary needs, enrollment increases, facilities maintenance, students’ health and wellness, achievement gaps, racial tensions and bringing together diverse students, staff and parents?

3. What is your leadership style, and how will you ensure all voices are heard?
Website www.jlhforboe.com
Facebook Page facebook.com/JohnsonLemonHareForBoE
1. A Board of Education, superintendent, administrators, and teachers who believe in their students and let them know their value and worth, and open their students’ minds to the endless possibilities afforded to them by education. 2. Making sure learning is enjoyable and not a task, all the while remaining challenging and pushing students to their highest potential. 3. We need to speak their language while placing them in a safe and comfortable environment. 4. Administrators and teachers need to be invested in creating an environment that produces well rounded and driven students. Students who are both compassionate and passionate, and possess a sense of humility. In this case it is essential that we provide EVERY child an equal opportunity to achieve their respective levels of success.

As a member of the school board I believe it is our duty to identify those in positions of leadership, who will uphold these values and more so demand that the ideals are met. I believe we have a unique opportunity to hire a new superintendent who will be a true leader for our district. We need to close the opportunity gap and include all our children and their families in a new model of success. We need to identify leadership that will be hands-on and champion the success of each of our students. I believe it is something that can be monitored more often and demands much more attention.
I have an understanding of what is going on with the budget and the progress of the referendum through examination of what has been posted, and through talks with people, however I believe there could be much more than meets the eye. I have always been a person who believes one has to be in the room to fully understand any budget. So overall, as a member of the public who has not been so completely sold on the transparency of the current board, I am not so positive that there isn’t more to the budget and progress of the referendum.
The concerns of equity did not start, nor have they ended with the pandemic. The (IN)equity of our disadvantaged (black/brown) students has always been an issue of major concern. It was a pandemic before the Covid-19 pandemic. Internet access has and should have always been a major concern, it has just been exacerbated by this new pandemic. Though this is not a new occurrence, we have been aware for quite some time that outside tutoring has helped others gain advantages others simply can’t afford. The question of equity has finally become an important issue, polarized some will even say. It's an issue we have overlooked for far too long, and it’s vital that it be addressed immediately or we will never grow as an educational institution or community. It’s the moral imperative of the Board of Education to ensure that equity comes to fruition immediately and that the playing field be leveled. It doesn’t stop with the Board, it involves every member of our school community, and beyond.
The pandemic has taught us that our families and students themselves rely on us for much more than an education. It has taught us that we need a better plan to swiftly respond and support our students in times of crisis. Refining our plans for worst case scenarios will prepare us to ensure student safety and minimize interruption to education and services. The pandemic is affording us the ability to educate kids with new technology pushing us to revamp our methods. We, as the Princeton Public School system, have the ability to be at the forefront of modernizing and enhancing our educational output, all the while better equipping our kids with the tools necessary to further their education and reach their highest potential. I think it is important at this junction for us to look to a variety of academic institutions around the world for inspiration - including in our own town.
1. What does leadership mean to you, what qualities should a leader possess, and what do you believe are the most efficient/effective way to govern?

2. Do you find transparency and accountability necessary? Why?

3. How do you intend to enhance the learning experience of our historically marginalized students and those with special needs?

I would hope to learn about the candidate’s character and integrity, before we could even move on to their true ability to lead our school system. I also believe I would have a sense of where they stand in their ideals of equity and whether they would work with the board, staff, families, and students, to ensure progress in our school community.
Campaign Email karen.lemon@gmail.com
Website www.jlhforboe.com
Facebook Page facebook.com/JohnsonLemonHareForBoE
I am running for Princeton Board of Education on a slate with Paul Johnson and Bill Hare. We have jointly prepared the following statement to respond to the questions. While we are each of course different, we have come together to run as a slate supporting diversity, affordability, and transparency, and we believe our joint response to the questions demonstrates our commitment.

The most important factors are: Access to quality education and a secure, supportive environment. 1. Commit to address the achievement gap by leveraging best practices as well as exceptional teachers and staff. 2. Commit to acknowledging the diversity of our students and working to ensure their physical and psychological safety. 3. Provide the leadership necessary to build a culture of inclusion and educational excellence necessary to ensure all students realize success.

PPS has had a persistent and consistent achievement /opportunity gap associated with income level and race. We cannot view our district as successful until we have worked to meet the needs of every student. The achievement gap has seen no improvement in recent years as measured by standardized testing in math and English/LA. The Board of Education must provide leadership to finally narrow the gap. It can not remain consistent and complacent and let this gap continue. Upon being sworn into the Board of Education, our first action will be to create an ad hoc committee with the focus of reducing the gap as measured by test results. In two years, we must see positive results. Rather than hire expensive consultants, we propose to turn to our teachers and staff for solutions. We are not the first school district to address these issues and between the input of our teachers and staff, and a review of best educational practices, we will create solutions to ensure success for all our students. Other districts have successfully reduced the achievement gap and there is no excuse for PPS not to have achieved this already.
Yes, we believe we have a good handle on how the referendum is going. The PPS webpage provides a financial summary showing the status as of July 20, 2020. The notes column provides some indication of the progress of each individual project. It would be helpful if the notes included an expected completion date that is updated as each project progresses.

The budget presentation from the May 2020 BOE meeting provides an understanding of where our money is going. We propose a monthly breakout of all covid-19 related expenses and savings for the public to see. For example, the public should see how the switch from hybrid to on-line classes affected our budget.
Yes, we have concerns. PPS, led by the Interim Superintendent, has worked quickly to address many of the gaps in the technology needs of our students in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year. It is essential to make sure all students have the necessary hardware, software, and on-line access to successfully participate in on-line remote learning. In addition to technology, we must also ensure that students have the structure and support they need to work remotely. This is difficult in our diverse community and it is necessary for the school, working with the community, to identify and support any gaps.

Recommendations would include: expanding existing support by the YMCA, identifying tutors and mentors, reaching out to parents to help support them in providing an adequate learning environment in the home, and working with teachers to identify individual student needs (physical and emotional). The teachers will be our daily direct contact with the students, and we need to make sure that “if they see something, they say something” as the saying goes. We cannot let any students fall between the cracks. We cannot allow remote learning to further impact the existing achievement gap. We need to make sure we remain connected with students such that we support them during this tumultuous time. We must look at the whole child and make sure those that need it are receiving food and counseling.

First, is that our schools provide more than just education. Many students and families depend on our schools for much more than education. Schools also address food insecurity, counseling, connections, physical and mental health and wellness.

Technology can enhance learning and provide access beyond the bounds of the previous school experience. PPS needs to embrace this and put a technology roadmap plan in place which will allow students and teachers to leverage its full potential. The technology also provides parents with greater visibility into their child’s learning and needs.

Not all students learn the same way and the more we can work to provide alternate individual teaching/learning methods which enable students to reach their own success, the better we will all be.

And importantly, we need to use this unique situation (or at least unique since 1918) and come up with some creative techniques that will change the district for the better when this is all over. We have seen that when required, this district can come up with creative solutions to address problems. When this pandemic is over, we cannot regress to our old mode of operation. Instead we must be willing to look at the operations of this district with a completely new perspective. We need to focus on how we educate and take it to another level: how can we ensure that each student is fully engaged such that they can’t fall out of the system, and how can we do all of this in a more cost-effective manner.

We must be willing to ask questions about how this district should be operated. For example, what is the role of administrators and supervisors in an on-line learning environment? Should they also be teaching classes? Are there some classes that have been successful during remote learning? Exploring the option of holding some elective courses online, or in a hybrid mode, may negate the need for further expansion of our buildings. When the pandemic ends, PPS should be the example for other school districts. Now is the time for PPS to be a leader rather than a follower.
1. What are examples where you have built a culture of success for students, staff and parents? In particular, examples where you have reduced an achievement gap between different demographic groups of students. 2. Share with me examples of creative leadership where you have addressed issues concerning budgetary needs, enrollment increases, facilities maintenance, students’ health and wellness, achievement gaps, racial tensions and bringing together diverse students, staff and parents? 3. What is your leadership style, and how will you ensure all voices are heard?
Campaign Email mtp4boe@gmail.com
Website www.mtp4boe.com
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Michele-Tuck-Ponder-for-Princeton-School-Board-114971142506128
The job of a school board member is not to run the schools, but to ensure that the schools are well run. This is accomplished first by development and commitment to clearly articulated goals that are focused on providing support and opportunity for every student to succeed. Second, a school board must ensure that expectations are clear and that the Chief School Officer (the Superintendent) has the knowledge, skill and capacity to fulfill those goals. The Board must articulate expected outcomes and hold the Superintendent responsible for progress toward achieving the educational goals of the district. Administrators, Teachers and Support Staff are managed by the Superintendent, and the Board must establish and review outcomes to ensure that expectations are met. The most important factors for student success are: 1. A learning environment where students are made to feel welcome and valued as individuals and collectively, with support to ensure that students have the support they need to succeed. 2. Educational pedagogy that ensures that every student is encouraged to excel in 20th Century skills: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity. These skills will serve every student in whatever field they choose to pursue. 3. Students receive instruction from skilled and compassionate classroom teachers who are well-versed in curriculum, cultural literacy and student development.
As a sitting member of the Princeton Board of Education, I have a solid grasp on our budget and the referendum project. The budget is monitored monthly by the Board’s Finance Committee, and while I am not a member of that committee, the full board is briefed regularly on the District’s financials. As you might imagine, due to expenses associated with Covid-19, the district has made many non-budgeted expenditures for safety equipment, HVAC upgrades and cleaning protocols that were not anticipated when the budget was passed in the Spring. We anticipate that additional expenses will be added to ensure the safety of our staff and students, when school resumes in mid-October. Like most building projects, the referendum project has run into a few challenges, which we hope will be covered by the contingency included in the budget. The Board and the public receive regular updates on our referendum projects, as any additional spending must be approved by the Board in public session.
I always have concerns about equity. I am, however, proud of the fact that the District is providing a technological device to every student in the District to ensure a level technology playing field for all students, There has been some concern that not every student “needed” a computer, or have parents financially able to provide a device. Because we do not know whether students will be learning virtually or in person, the importance of having EVERY student on the same platform will allow teachers to consistently monitor student participation and performance, and to use a single platform for instruction and assignments. The District also received a gift to provide EVERY student without consistent and reliable access to internet to have unlimited internet access either through a commercial provider or hotspot. This need for internet access will continue after the pandemic is over. The District must partner with the municipality to provide this essential service to all citizens.
The pandemic has forced educators to embrace technology in ways that were never anticipated. The good news is that many of our kids are experts at technology and they adapted quickly. We have also learned that many kids, particularly those with learning challenges or with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) didn’t fare so well. The isolation of remote learning also eliminates the social-emotional aspect of interacting with classmates in a live school environment. We have learned that this has manifested in some troubling ways, including an increase in self-harm and eating disorders. The stress that remote learning has placed on parents is also significant. Teachers had to learn how to provide instruction in a whole new way, that does not always lend itself to remote learning. But the news is not all bad. I am proud of how our District learned from some of these challenges and has developed ways to address many of the most significant issues. As time goes on, we will continue to adapt to our “new normal” and dedicate ourselves to providing the best education possible for all our kids.
• Princeton is a district well known for its academic excellence. How would you ensure that all student have the opportunity to achieve academic excellence and experience the joy and purpose of learning? How do you plan to monitor student achievement? • Our school district is anticipating a significant growth in student population in the near future. What are your plans to address school overcrowding in light of our aging facilities and public resistance to spending for new schools? • Talk to us about your understanding of equity in education, and what steps you would take to ensure that all students receive the supports necessary for academic success? I would hope to learn that our candidate shares our District's values of academic excellence AND equity for all students. I would like to be sure that he/she understands the major challenge confronting our district--which is school overcrowding and inadequate facilities and the impact that could potentially have have on our schools budget and our taxpayers.