October 25, 2017

Six School Board Candidates Speak Out

By Donald Gilpin

The six candidates for three open seats on the Board of Education of the Princeton Public Schools were asked to tell us again, in only about 100 words, “why we should vote for you.” The election will take place on November 7. Here are their responses:

Beth Behrend

Our School Board oversees a $95 million budget and is planning a multi-million-dollar facilities expansion that will shape our schools and impact Princeton taxpayers for decades to come. Homeowners are deeply concerned about high property taxes, while the cost of delivering an excellent education for our kids continues to rise. The need to improve wellness, balance, and equity in our schools is urgent. My financial, legal, and business experience, together with years of school and community service and leadership, make me well equipped to help navigate these complex challenges. As a parent, taxpayer, and passionate supporter of our public schools, it would be an honor to serve this wonderful community С and our children С on the Princeton School Board.

Jessica Deutsch

I am the candidate who brings professional credentials in education (Harvard EdM) and social work (Rutgers MSW). The group I founded,КPrinceton Balance, shifted the local conversation on student well-being. Hard, urgent work remains, so that allКstudents can do well,КandКbe well. I will help make policy decisions that promote excellence and balance for allКstudents. We must close the opportunity gap. I have the skills to facilitate listening, collaboration, creativity, and strategic action. I waited to run until my children were in college, so I have the long view of the schools. I will be a thoughtful, responsible steward of your taxpayer dollars and resources. I am determined and prepared to lead and serve on behalf of our entire community.

James Fields

First, I am a concerned parent. As a parent of two children at Johnson Park Elementary, I’m concerned about the future status of our educational system in bridging racial barriers, creating intentional initiatives towards student mental health concerns, and making Princeton Public School’s success sustainable for all children. Second, as a former school administrator, I envision a school system where excellence prevails and is defined as “being your best” rather than simply “being the best.” Finally, within our district its clearly divided between those who have financial resources and those who do not; thus, if you desire to create a culture that is welcoming of all socioeconomic statuses, vote Fields (4th line) on November 7.

Jenny Ludmer

As a proven leader, with extensive, hands-on experience working in the Princeton Public Schools, I am committed to preserving its strengths and equipped to address its challenges. With three young children in the district, I have a direct interest in ensuring our schools continue their tradition of excellence. My background in scientific analysis will enable me to thoroughly research options and to make sound, evidence-based decisions. With a multi-million-dollar referendum at stake, it is vital that our Board of Education take its mission to represent taxpayers seriously. I am not afraid to ask hard questions, and personally pledge to hold the district accountable to parents, students, and the entire community.

Julie Ramirez

As the involved mother of four children, I am passionate about improving the educational experiences of all students in our schools. As a financial professional, I am committed to strong fiscal stewardship of our community’s funds and of our schools as valuable public assets. I’ve spent my career driving collaboration between diverse groups to solve complex problems and make difficult decisions within resource constraints.

If elected, I will draw on my personal passion and professional expertise to ensure initiatives have meaningful impact and measurable results. I will work hard every day so that our schools are excellent for EVERY child.

Michele Tuck-Ponder

As a 26-year Princeton resident with two children who have attended PPS, and a former mayor of the town, I have a level of experience, leadership, and record of collaboration that is unmatched by any other candidate. My campaign has emphasized:

1 The Board of Education represents EVERYONE in the town, not just students and parents, and has fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers.

2. Many generations of Princetonians have been denied an equal education in our public schools due to systemic racism. This cannot continue.

3. We need to seek creative solutions to anticipated school overcrowding in order to keep expenses and costs in check.