Supporting School Board Candidates Debbie Bronfeld and Dafna Kendal
To the Editor:
This is an important time for our public schools and for our community. Our public schools have an annual budget that exceeds $100 million. This spending represents 48 percent of our overall property tax bill. We must spend our money thoughtfully and wisely to maintain great schools and to keep Princeton affordable.
I am pleased to support Debbie Bronfeld and Dafna Kendal for election to the Princeton Board of Education. Independent oversight of our schools is vital for students, families and the community at large. Board members must strike a delicate balance with decisions on curriculum, personnel, class size, facilities, and affordability.
I have been working collaboratively with BoE member Debbie Bronfeld since my term began in January, 2019. She cares deeply about our students, teachers, and community. She works exceptionally hard on multiple committees. She asks probing questions and is focused on academic excellence, equity, and fiscal sustainability. Debbie is an independent thinker and votes no on wasteful spending. She wants to keep Princeton affordable and she prioritizes teachers over expensive new facilities.
I have also been privileged to know candidate and former Board member Dafna Kendal. Last year, in response to significant community concern over a proposed facilities referendum, Dafna skillfully pared down the size of the referendum by $103 million or 79 percent, to ensure that the resulting proposal addressed our schools’ most pressing needs. These critical improvements include new vestibules for safety and security, air conditioning, three new flexible classrooms at JW Middle School, and a new addition with four classrooms and new athletic space at Princeton High School.
Dafna Kendal has also been instrumental in raising funds from institutions that benefit our students without burdening our taxpayers. She led successful efforts to raise $200,000 from an anonymous foundation and to earn a $500,000 payment from an organization with children of staff that attend our great schools.
Ms. Kendal also informed the Board that Cranbury was not paying all of its contractual obligations to reimburse PPS for Special Education costs after the Superintendent announced a 3 percent reduction in staff earlier this year. Her information was confirmed by a new analysis and Cranbury was billed an additional $166,000 for the 2018-2019 school year.
Our public schools have significant financial resources to fulfill our educational mission and to address the challenges ahead. The schools’ budgetary cost per pupil ranks as the third highest of 97 school districts in our peer group (NJDOE Taxpayers’ Guide to Educational Spending).
However, we need thoughtful and skilled leadership to prioritize spending on that which is most important to the educational outcomes we desire for all our children, and to keep our community affordable. I hope that you will support board candidates Debbie Bronfeld and Dafna Kendal for election on November 5.
Daniel J. Dart
Although the writer is a member of the Princeton Board of Education, he is writing in his private, individual capacity and not on behalf of the Board of Education.