November 1, 2017

To the Editor:

We write in support of Jess Deutsch for School Board. She has splendid qualifications: a deep background in education and counseling, two children who have gone through our system, the ability to listen, and a strong desire to serve all in our community.

We hope you will join us in voting for her.

Claire and David Jacobus

Cleveland Lane

To the Editor:

Our community is fortunate to have several good candidates running for open seats on the Princeton Public School Board of Education (BOE). As a current School Board member (writing only for myself and not on behalf of the BOE), I am familiar with some of the unprecedented challenges ahead for our school system. More than ever before our community needs leaders on the School Board who not only are equipped with the right expertise and skills to meet these challenges, but who hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical transparency, have the courage to make hard decisions, and have the willingness to be accountable for the consequences. Julie Ramirez is exactly such a leader and I support her for election to the PPS School Board.

Many who know Julie have encouraged her for years to run for a seat on the School Board. She has unique professional expertise as a project manager and will bring this experience to our school community at exactly the right time. As a Board member I have seen innovative ideas and initiatives around racial equity, early childhood education, athletics, curriculum reviews, and more by our superintendent, faculty, and community. These ideas and proposals are all important for our children and all deserve to be addressed through the kind of thorough cost-conscious, results-oriented process that Julie can help to lead.

Serving on the School Board is one of the hardest jobs someone can volunteer for. The new Board members will face complex and difficult choices that will impact our community for years to come. We must elect collegial, compassionate people with high principles; people who are hardworking, forthright, and morally courageous. Julie Ramirez fits this profile.

Justin Doran

Winfield Road

To the Editor:

Michele Tuck-Ponder has given extraordinary public service to Princeton, and we wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy for the Princeton School Board. She will bring to the Board the knowledge, leadership skills, and — most significantly — values of critical importance to the ultimate vitality of our schools and our community.

Michele is a public-school parent, a taxpayer, an attorney, and a former mayor. She understands that a school system cannot truly achieve excellence unless it promotes the achievement of all of its students. She also knows well that an unaffordable school system threatens the very diversity that enriches our schools.

Michele will work to support a school culture that embraces high expectations for all students while also preparing them to navigate a multicultural world. She will work equally hard to hold the line on budgets and to ensure that expenditures are cost-effective and serve our educational mission.

Michele’s government experience includes policy-related positions as aide to a United States senator, assistant counsel to the New Jersey governor, and mayor and member of Township Committee in the former Princeton Township. She was centrally involved in overseeing the feasibility study, design, and financing of the Princeton Municipal Complex and the negotiation and financing of infrastructure and siting for the Princeton Public Library. In the non-profit sector, Michele has served as an executive of Women’s Fund and the YWCA and a member of the boards of New Jersey After 3 and the Girl Scouts. She has repeatedly met the challenge of serving the public interest while conserving scarce resources. This background will serve well the School Board’s need to explore alternative sources of funding and carefully review the economics of our current commitments.

As enrollment grows, School Board members will be called upon to make strategic decisions about facilities, infrastructure, and the alignment of spending and mission. Michele will bring to these issues an ability to identify and ask the hard questions, well-known skills as a consensus-builder, and a deep commitment to a quality education for all students in our system.

Walter and Mary Bliss 

Beth and Jim Healey

Moore Street

Virginia Kerr 

Jefferson Road

To the Editor:

As the director of the YWCA Princeton Breast Cancer Resource Center, I would like to extend my gratitude to all of the merchants and businesses in Princeton and Lawrenceville who displayed a BCRC Pink Bow in solidarity with local women affected by breast cancer. As an organization we received countless emails and comments from community members praising our effort to ensure that no woman feels alone in her fight. From the bottom of my heart, as a breast cancer survivor, longtime Princeton resident, and BCRC leader, I commend this wonderful community for your support during breast cancer awareness month.

Paula Flory

Director, YWCA Princeton Breast Cancer 

Resource Center

To the Editor:

If you care about education, veterans, and the environment, vote for Andrew Zwicker for the New Jersey Assembly on November 7. Zwicker, a physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, has ably represented District 16 for two years.

Using his professional expertise, Zwicker has championed the causes of education, particularly science education, the environment, and open space.

He sponsored legislation to establish science and technology fellowships, and legislation to make it easier for the military and veterans to go to college. His bill to forgive student debt when a student dies or is disabled was recently enacted into law.

Zwicker’s environmental accomplishments include introducing a bill urging New Jersey to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. This bill passed the Assembly. His bills to preserve farmland in the four counties he represents (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset) were recently signed into law.

With Washington turning its back on education and protecting the environment, it is more important than ever that the legislators we send to Trenton reflect our values.

I urge you to reelect Andrew Zwicker for the New Jersey Assembly on November 7.

Carol Ann Welsch 

Lawrenceville

To the Editor:

I want to thank the person or persons who found the envelope I lost on Henry Avenue, and sent it back to me.

Since there was no return address, I can’t thank you personally, but I want you to know I am very grateful for your thoughtfulness.

I just hope you read Town Topics!

Jean Stratton

Snowden Lane

To the Editor:

It was an amazing night at the Princeton Family YMCA’s 2017 Centennial Awards For Healthy Living hosted in the Y’s gymnasium last Thursday evening. I want to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful honorees who let us recognize their extraordinary work in making our community healthier and stronger: Rachel Dultz, MD, medical director of the Breast Health Center; Blandine Lacroix, VP for obesity marketing, Novo Nordisk; Kim Pimley, chair, Princeton Healthcare System board of trustees and community leader; Dr. Keith Wailoo, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University; Ross Wishnick, Princeton Human Services Commission chair and founder of Send Hunger Packing Princeton; and the Princeton Clergy Association, represented by its co-chairs Rabbi Adam Feldman and Rev. David A. Davis.

And a huge thank you to our inspiring Centennial Awards co-chairs Tracy Sipprelle and Cameron Manning and Silent Auction co-chairs Mana Winters and Ruth Wells. They, along with our Steering Committee members and our terrific young presenters, put on yet another memorable and uplifting presentation. And of course, much appreciation to our very generous sponsors and donors who supported the occasion and made it such a FUN party!

I am thrilled to report that our collective efforts raised more than $110,000 to support the YMCA’s work in strengthening the foundations of our community. At the YMCA, we are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, to promoting healthy living and to fostering a sense of social responsibility — and we are truly grateful to our supporters who help us to ensure that every individual has access to the essentials needed to learn, grow and thrive.

Merilyn Rovira

Chair, Board of Directors

To the Editor:

Some recent articles and letters about Sunrise’s revived proposal to build an assisted-living and memory-care complex on the narrow strip of land between the Princeton Shopping Center and Terhune Road have emphasized the desirability of extremely fire-resistant construction. Others have endorsed approval of the project without apparent realization that it is intended for assisted living and for memory care rather than for more generally defined senior housing. In previous letters to Town Topics I have expressed my own concern that the shape and size and location of the lot make any kind of residential use far less than optimal because of inevitable proximity to and disturbance by activities at the shopping center. Those reservations remain, and I also recently… and belatedly … reacted to the fact that the tentative plans show that apparently at least 80 percent of the main portion of the lot would be covered by either buildings or pavement. Counting the area of the unused panhandle portion of the lot that reaches down toward the park would artificially lower the covered-area percentage somewhat, but such a calculation is not germane to what the project would do to drainage in the area. Whoever is to be responsible for determining whether the project is approved is probably already fully aware of this limitation, but I suggest that those not directly involved who have been expressing support for approval make some allowance in their enthusiasm for the rather dramatic change it would bring about in the asphalt-to-greenery ratio on that strip of locally elevated land. To a novice in hydrological matters, it appears that virtually all the rain that is now absorbed within the boundaries of the lot would be deflected to adjacent roads and properties to possibly serious effect on road and basement flooding.

John Strother

Grover Ave

FACE OFF: Two 11- and 12-year-old PeeWee ice hockey players face off against each other during a practice at the Lisa McGraw Ice Rink at Princeton Day School. They are now part of the newly merged Lawrence Nassau Hockey Association.

By Jean Stratton

Team play, skill instruction, sportsmanship, and competition are all part of the newly formed Lawrence Nassau Hockey Association.

Established in the spring of 2017, the association is a merger of the former Lawrence Hockey Association and Nassau Hockey Association, both youth ice hockey programs with a long history in the area. more

October 25, 2017

To the Editor:

As long-term Princeton residents with children who are attending or have graduated from Princeton Public Schools, we know firsthand how integral our children’s experience in Princeton Public Schools is to success in their lives. We believe that investment in our town’s public education system is critical and remain committed to ensuring that future generations receive the same excellent education.

However, as an active part of this vibrant community, we know there are many faced with the imminent possibility of having to leave due to financial constraints. There are numerous issues impacting the entire community that the newly elected board will have to contend with — from the reported growth in student enrollment, to the contract with Cranbury up for renewal in 2020, to the multi-million-dollar facilities referendum expected to go to voters next year.

It is vital that our Board of Education take its mission to represent taxpayers seriously, remembering that a higher tax burden can undermine our community’s commitment to a socioeconomically diverse population. We need Board members willing to ask hard questions, even when unpopular, and analyze all aspects of the budget — keeping in mind the impact to the entire community. We believe Jenny Ludmer is that candidate.

As the parent of three young children in Princeton Public Schools, Jenny has a direct interest in making sure our schools are excellent. Her willingness to serve on the Complete Streets Committee — a municipal group tasked with ensuring our streets are safe and accessible to riders of all ages and abilities — exemplifies her commitment to the wider community. Jenny’s background in scientific analysis will assist her in applying a rigorous process and well-reasoned approach to finding solutions.

With her vision, passion, commitment, and most importantly — her unwavering integrity — we believe Jenny will continue to work tirelessly, as she has since moving to Princeton, for the entire community. We are confident Jenny will help to find solutions that balance the interests of young families who want the best education for their children, with those of older residents who desire to remain in the community that has become their hometown.

If you are looking for a candidate who will truly represent ALL of Princeton, on November 7, please join us in voting for Jenny LUDMER — LAST on the ballot, First for Princeton!

Archana Nimgaonkar, Jack and Uschi Taylor, Ann Marciano, Elaine Wilson

Caldwell Drive

Ken and Jen Carson, Nancy Tsai

Herrontown Road

Amie Thornton and Craig Carnaroli,
Josephine and John Werth, Betsy Denny

Bertrand Drive

To the Editor:

We heartily encourage Princeton voters to join us in voting for Julie Ramirez for the Princeton Board of Education on November 7.

Over the last year we have worked closely with Julie on a volunteer initiative for our school district. Julie has deeply impressed us with her passion for doing what’s right for children in the Princeton Public Schools, how she always combines that passion with pragmatism and good sense, and how she harnesses those qualities for effective leadership.

That Julie joins these traits so effectively is a testament to her most relevant qualifications to serve on the school board: a breadth of knowledge and experience in our schools at all grade levels, as her four children (in grades 5, 7, 10, and 12) have attended Princeton Public Schools since kindergarten; and her 20-year career as a financial systems project management professional.

The operations of our school district are complex, and the board faces significant challenges in the coming years. With her professional experience in large-scale project management, it will be second nature for Julie to help prioritize the actions and decisions that our district needs to take, to find ways that the district can achieve greater quality with constrained resources, and achieve measurable, meaningful results. These skills will prove invaluable on the school board, especially as Princeton Public Schools embarks on the capital improvements needed to serve our community’s growing enrollment.

Perhaps more than any other quality, Julie has impressed us with her work ethic. Even while working and raising four busy kids, Julie is always one of the most determined, steadily reliable, and thoughtfully engaged person involved in her volunteer commitments. When you work with Julie, you get both quantity and quality.

These are just some of the reasons we support Julie’s candidacy for School Board, but there are more: her commitment to transparency, her concern for students of diverse backgrounds and needs, her desire to see the district continue to innovate around how it serves all of its students, and more. Julie Ramirez is exactly the kind of leader we need now on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education. Please give Julie your vote on November 7.

Amy Craft

Poe Road

Anne Desmond

Tee-Ar Place

To the Editor:

New Jersey voters can learn non-partisan information about candidates in the League of Women Voters’ online guide at www.VOTE411.org. By entering their address, voters can find out if they are registered and the location of their polling place, see their ballot, and compare the responses of candidates to League questions. Voters will also find interpretations of ballot questions, including the pros and cons for supporting them.

Launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund in October of 2006 and introduced state by state, VOTE411 is a “one-stop-shop” for election-related information. The League hopes that voters seeking information about races — from governor to school board — will take advantage of the website.

Chrystal Schivell

League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area, 

Monroe Lane

To the Editor:

How wonderful that six people are running for the Princeton School Board! Democracy is about choices and I am happy that I have that in this School Board election. One of my votes will be for Michelle Tuck-Ponder. I have worked with her during my 22 years in elected office and after that too. She has been consistently prepared, honest, and knowledgeable. We didn’t always agree on some issues but we respected each other and civility always reigned. I stress that because her stellar resume informs you of the breadth of her academic and professional experience, and of her community involvement that will be of value to the School Board. What is not easily evident on any resume are the “people” skills that are essential to being a superior School Board member, or for that matter, being a productive member of any board.

The ability to listen, to be flexible, open-minded, accessible, and patient are vital skills that are not always apparent on paper. Michelle has these very important qualities. I hope that your thoughtful evaluation of the candidates will lead you to join me on November 7 in supporting Michelle Tuck-Ponder for the Princeton Board.

Phyllis Marchand

Montadale Drive

To the Editor:

Community and friends, please accept this letter to the editor as food for thought as you prepare to cast your ballots for new members to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE). Having run for the BOE in Princeton years ago and now running campaigns for progressive candidates in different states around the country, I am interested to see the number of really good Princeton people wanting to serve our town, kids and families. However, with every election there are winners and candidates who didn’t get enough votes.

There are no losers when it comes to community service and wanting your school system to be the best and your students prepared to learn and to live. Anyone who takes the time to run a campaign, be a candidate, share a thoughtful educational message is to be applauded. Having said that, there are three available seats on the board and I want to encourage all voters to do as I did. Make every effort to meet the candidates, or contact them in some way to share your thoughts and to hear their vision for the district and if all else fails, go online to candidate websites and get a read on each of those seeking your support.

I am supporting Jess Deutsch and Beth Behrend for PPS Board and I’m asking those reading this letter to do the same. Jess Deutsch’s educational work, background, and expertise as well as Beth Behrend’s problem solving skills and legal insight will be major assets to what in my mind has been an effective Board. This endorsement means that I will work very hard to assist these candidates, but it also means after they are elected, I will remind Jess and Beth about their commitments and the hard work that still needs to be done. Princeton High School and to some degree all Princeton Public Schools are the best in the state. The challenge for these candidates and the district is to make sure that ALL students achieve and succeed to be successful contributors to society. I believe that Jess Deutsch and Beth Behrend are the best people to help us get there and therefore are my choice for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

Blessings and Putting Kids First,

John Bailey

Highway 27

To the Editor:

We are writing this letter in support of Beth Behrend, a candidate for the Princeton Public Schools’ Board of Education (BOE).

We know Beth primarily through our shared work to establish and improve PPS school gardens and garden-related curriculum. Beth was a leader in the garden movement for several years while she served as Riverside Elementary School’s garden coordinator and PTO president, and also as a board member of the Princeton School Gardens Cooperative. She was instrumental in finding creative ways to fund school gardens and played a major role in helping to integrate the gardens into the school curriculum.

Beth also created and directed the Healthy Children/Healthy Planet community fundraiser for the Riverside school gardens. This annual event raised $50,000 over five years and brought together many different constituencies to work toward a common goal: improving the health and education of children.

In addition to her garden work, Beth was a founding trustee and secretary of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, currently serves as secretary of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, and has actively supported many local organizations that benefit our schools and our students.

As her record suggests, Beth has long been a passionate advocate for children and sustainability. She is highly dedicated, thoughtful, and meticulous. She respects diverse viewpoints, collaborates skillfully, and always thinks about the big picture. Her deep experience as a volunteer leader, as well as her legal training and career, make her an excellent candidate. The Princeton community would benefit tremendously from having her join the BOE.

Stephanie Chorney 

Race Street

Jennifer Jang 

Russell Road

Amy Mayer

Overbrook Road

Elizabeth White

Newlin Road

To the Editor:

On November 7, the New Jersey governorship and our whole legislature (40 Senators and 80 General Assembly members) are up for election. New Jersey is one of only two states with gubernatorial elections this year, and the rest of the country will be watching. This year, we ALL have to go to the polls and vote! We have to make sure our voices are heard and that we elect officials — legislators, sheriffs, freeholders, council members, board of education members — who truly represent us.

However, in this age of abundant data, it can be surprisingly difficult to learn who is running for office, and what their positions are on the issues. Do you want to contact your local candidates to ask their positions on issues they have not spoken about publicly? Good luck with that! All the state provides is the candidates’ names and postal addresses.

The Good Government Coalition of New Jersey (ggcnj.org), a new non-partisan grassroots group that grew up in Princeton, recently launched a campaign to correct this problem. GGCNJ created a database designed to provide information on all statewide candidates (and many local candidates) running this year. Candidates are asked to state their views on a list of good government measures and supply personal contact information (email, phone, website, social media) as well as biographical information (occupation, education, previous public service). This information is then posted on the site so voters can make informed decisions.

GGCNJ is calling on all candidates to help by providing their information to the database — every candidate should want informed voters! (Email info@ggcnj.org to get an electronic survey form.) We also encourage all citizens to make use of this database before they cast their ballots.

GGCNJ’s broader mission is to strengthen democracy in New Jersey by working with residents across our state to bring greater transparency, accountability, and participation to our state and local governments. The Coalition has identified several areas in which the current political system in New Jersey is broken. Too much power is concentrated in too few hands. This leads to a system that is dominated by those with money and power who shape decisions in backroom deals, leaving the public shut out of the process. GGCNJ aims to ensure that government, at both the state and local levels, works on behalf of all of us. To find out more and to join us, please go to ggcnj.org.

Yael Niv, Nathaniel Daw

Franklin Ave

Julia Sass Rubin, Gregory Stankiewicz 

Raisa Rubin-Stankiewicz 

Jefferson Road

Kathleen Cassidy

Mt Lucas Road

Roger Shatzkin 

Chestnut Street

Karla Cook

Spruce Street

Kristen Suozzo

Prospect Avenue

Kristina Corvin

Leigh Avenue

October 18, 2017

To The Editor:

I have been a member of the YMCA for many years and have found the aerobic exercises in the basement very helpful. Lately I have such trouble navigating the steep staircase to reach the gym in the basement that I have been unable to continue with the exercises. However, a month ago, a new program called Senior Strong was offered (mainly chair exercises) in a different space on the ground floor. These workouts include light aerobic exercises, and exercises with weights, tubes, and balls to improve overall strength and coordination. These exercises have helped me very much. In earlier years and now again I thank the teacher, Virginia Soltis, very warmly. She is an expert and encouraging trainer with rare human talents.

There is a fly in the ointment. The new class on the ground floor is undersubscribed. In that circumstance, there is always worry that a space will be reassigned.

I would like to thank the administration of the YMCA for making it possible for people with limited mobility to take part in the their wonderful program. I very much hope that the YMCA will see the way clear for maintaining and expanding this life enhancing program for senior citizens.

Anne Morrison
Linwood Circle

To the Editor,

I write to strongly endorse Julie Ramirez, a candidate for Princeton’s Board of Education. I have known Julie and her family for ten years and am certain that she will do an exceptional job if elected to the School Board. With four children at Johnson Park, John Witherspoon, and Princeton High School; Julie knows our district well, is a passionate advocate for our public schools, and understands that job number one is to make sure that our children receive the highest quality education possible in an environment that gives every child, from all backgrounds, the opportunity to learn, grow, and realize their full potential.

Julie also understands that we need to do this in a financially responsible manner. As a seven-year member of Princeton’s Citizen’s Finance Advisory Committee, I know how important it is to our residents to have great services AND keep tax increases as modest as possible. The school district has a large complex budget and, with a growing student body and insufficient space in almost every building, the School Board faces historic challenges related to physical expansion, capital spending, and long-term operational budgeting. With her successful 20-year career in finance and project management in the private sector, Julie has a unique background and skill set that makes her particularly well qualified to serve on the Board at this critical and difficult time.

Our children deserve the best education we can afford and our taxpayers deserve elected representatives like Julie who bring professional expertise to the board, and who will preserve our schools’ excellence in the most efficient, responsible way. I strongly encourage you to join me in voting for Julie Ramirez (ballot position #5) for Board of Education on November 7.

Brian McDonald
Journey’s End Lane

To the Editor:

I write to lend my enthusiastic support to Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, who is running for re-election to New Jersey’s 16th Legislative District.

Andrew has been an outstanding representative. A physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, named by The American Association of Physics Teachers as one of the country’s top 75 leading contributors to physics education, Andrew is also experienced in business operations. Recently, teaming with tech sector leaders, he helped spearhead a novel public-private partnership focused on developing green energy.

In the Assembly, Andrew has had more than a dozen bills signed into law and is a sponsor of many more, including those supporting young farmers, low-income home energy assistance, air-pollution control, and voter privacy.

As a former mayor (Princeton Township), and council president (Princeton), I am familiar with the qualities necessary for those seeking elective office and Andrew has those qualities in abundance. While his opponents have embraced the regressive policies of the Chris Christie wing of the Republican party, Andrew has provided a voice in the Assembly for the middle class, and for better jobs, education, and housing opportunities for all of the residents of our great state. I urge you to vote on November 7 to re-elect Andrew Zwicker.

Bernie Miller
Governors Lane

To the Editor:

I am pleased to endorse and encourage others to vote for Michele Tuck-Ponder (Line #3) in the upcoming school board election. In Michele, we have an opportunity to strengthen our board with a person who possesses a proven record of civil service, commitment to our community and the exceptional knowledge and ability to bring people together.

As a former teacher (retired) in the Princeton Public School system for 41 years, I had a bird’s eye view of how our school system operated. Although our system is already considered to be amongst the best in the nation, there remains a great deal of room for improvement to ensure that all our children benefit. No one understands this town better than Michele, nor the myriad of issues and challenges that must be addressed to improve opportunities for all our children.

Among her many leadership qualities, I have great respect for her commitment to institutional transparency which allows all community stakeholders to be informed, collaborative, and supportive. She brings people together on tough issues. This is more important now than ever as we face major budgetary concerns, increases in the student population, focus on the health and mental wellness of students, the need for greater diversity amongst our faculty and administrators, and a growing desire to improve the opportunities and outcomes for all our students regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or gender orientation.

Michele’s service to this town is worth repeating. Not only was she mayor of Princeton Township for three years, she served on Town Council for six years, and served as police commissioner for two years. She’s been on many non-profit boards, committees, task forces and a consistent presence in the schools as an advocate for children besides her own.

I’m pulling the lever for Michele. I encourage those who want the best for our community to do the same.

Frances Broadway Craig
Maclean Street

To the Editor:
I write to endorse Beth Behrend for Princeton’s Board of Education and to encourage Princeton to vote for Beth on November 7.

I have worked closely with Beth as a fellow board member of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association where Beth is Board secretary, on the Executive Committee, and also serves on the Education and Development Committees. Beth put her legal skills to work in helping to update the organization’s by-laws and drafted a planned giving policy. She also helped expand the breadth of the Watershed’s environmental education programs to address next generation science standards and helped connect John Witherspoon Middle School’s classes with the Watershed’s outstanding environmental education programs. Beth has been a dedicated board member and the Watershed is a better organization thanks to her service.

I also am a member of Princeton’s Citizens Finance Advisory Committee and consequently am very familiar with our town’s financial picture, including the burden that high property taxes place on the community. In many conversations about town and school finances over the years, I have found that Beth is committed to fiscal prudence as a priority in decisions affecting the taxpayer’s wallet.

Beth is a clear-thinking, level-headed, experienced leader who wholly commits herself to excellence and equity. Through her career in corporate law she advised on financings, acquisitions, governance, and regulatory matters. As a leader of the Riverside PTO she raised over $50,000 for the school gardens. She understands finance, understands governance, understands organizational decision-making, and understands strategic planning. With these skills, I am confident that Beth will ensure that our schools deliver the highest quality education for every student while simultaneously honoring citizens’ concerns about higher taxes.

Princeton’s schools and taxpayers would both be well served by having Beth Behrend on the School Board.

Scott Sillars
Patton Avenue

To the Editor:
First off, I would like to thank all of the School Board candidates who participated in the Not in Our Town-sponsored forum on Sunday October 8. All showed true commitment to listening and taking note of the students voices.

Throughout the forum, the candidates were asked tough questions, posed by students themselves. There were a myriad of topics asked throughout the night, some being about race, discrimination, mental health, and discipline. A question that seemed to resonate well with the audience was: “Can you describe a conversation that you have initiated about race with your child?” Towards the end of the forum, questions were received from the audience, via flashcards.

After the forum, audience comments were encouraging in the sense that the forum truly helped them form stronger opinions on the candidates, their positions, and who they are.
Thank you to all 89 audience members for attending and participating in this important part of the democratic process. An additional thank you to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton for allowing us to use their beautiful space.

Valeria Torres-Olivares ’18
Princeton High School

October 11, 2017

To the Editor:

This is in reply to Nat Bottigheimer’s letter in the September 27 Mailbox on fire risks of large-scale wood housing.

As a society, we are constructing, once again, huge housing complexes and hotels built of wood. Look around at the new megablock luxury condo/apartment complexes. Almost all are wood framed and built with more combustible lightweight and engineered wood than the heavier wood used pre-World War II.

The result: conflagrations in heavily populated areas that destroy as many as hundreds of wood condo or apartment homes in a single fire. And sprinklers are not preventing the conflagrations, which would not occur if we built large-scale housing out of non-combustible construction as we used to do.

In large-scale wood housing, a single mistake can have catastrophic consequences. Two hundred forty apartment homes were destroyed in a single fire in Edgewater in 2015, and 500 people were permanently displaced. Another conflagration destroyed nearly 100 senior homes in a newly-built upscale retirement community in Georgia and killed one senior. There are frequent massive fires that destroy smaller wood complexes of dozens of condos or apartments.

There are also many fires in under-construction megablock wood complexes. Huge construction fires this year in large-scale wood housing this year in Oakland (multiple conflagrations), Boston (multiple conflagrations), Kansas City, and Raleigh spread to surrounding occupied buildings. The construction fire in Kansas City spread burning embers a square mile and burned two dozen surrounding occupied homes.

For an up-to-date list go to Facebook’s Massive Fires Damage Lives and scroll down.

So far there have not been many deaths in these fires. But death statistics are only one measure of damage. Surviving a major fire and losing one’s home is a traumatic event. Large long-term studies at major medical centers nationwide show that emotional trauma for fire survivors has similar life consequences as physical trauma, including divorce, job loss, anxiety, and depression. Search “Plos One — The Long-Term Impact of Physical and Emotional Trauma: The Station Nightclub Fire”

Megablock wood structure fires are conflagrations in which an entire block or more is burning. Multiple fire companies fight the fires which last many hours, and toxic smoke is released. In Raleigh police warned residents to stay away from the downtown for several days due to unhealthy air. The cost to municipalities in fighting these fires is high, neighborhood communities are destroyed, and the local economy suffers.

Citizens and experts are addressing this issue on the local, state, and national level. National code and fire experts, as well as informed citizens, are working for code reform. Note that paid lobbyists from the building industries wield influence on national building and fire code committees.

There are seven bills before the New Jersey state legislature. Citizens who have been working on this issue since the Edgewater conflagration support New Jersey bills Senate 1632/Assembly 3770 sponsored by Senators Turner and Bateman and Assembly members Muoio, Gusciora, Zwicker, and Chaparro.

It is time to take action at the state and local level for better fire protection in large wood structures.

Alexi Assmus

Maple Street

To the Editor:

As scientists and scientific enthusiasts, we are well aware of recent national trends which disregard science and abuse rational thought. Thus, we feel it’s necessary to support candidates who understand and value science in our society, and will undoubtedly support scientific education. This is why we are backing Jenny Ludmer, a former scientific analyst and writer, for the Board of Education.

One day a year at Littlebrook Elementary, we’ve seen fascinating things happen. Bees, lasers, bubbles, and goats descend upon the school. It’s not uncommon to hear loud chemistry explosions or see marshmallow peeps expand, while words like “central limit theorem” and “bionic eye” come drifting into the halls. For several years, Jenny has demonstrated her passion for scientific education by organizing this inspiring annual event at Littlebrook Elementary, known simply as the Science Expo.

An event that can only happen in a town like Princeton, the Expo draws science enthusiasts from industry as well as academia, parents as well as community members, into the school for one full day of action. Classes rotate through the school, so that each child participates in at least a dozen 20-minute engaging presentations. The goal is simply to wow kids with science, so they can imagine a future for themselves in this intriguing world. And they do.

Jenny is the willing coordinator of this massive project, eager to work with teachers and parents to make it happen. Pouring her time and energy into this project, literally for weeks and months every spring, a perfectly-orchestrated color-coded schedule is generated for this one day in May that rivals many airport timetables. Scientists expect her to pull it off, teachers know she will make it happen, and principals trust her to lead the day. Every year that we’ve participated in the Expo, we’ve walked away with a profound sense of respect for the school’s daily work, but also the knowledge that science is loved and respected here. And we who have seen her in the trenches know that this would not happen if it were not for Jenny’s efforts, organization, and determination.

Jenny’s long-time commitment to running the Science Expo underscores her view that the future of our community will depend on children that don’t just score well on science tests, memorize facts, or do hours of homework, but on developing children’s sense of wonder and scientific thought. We can see this in every initiative she develops and cultivates, from sustainability efforts — not just in the schools but throughout the community — running the Littlebrook Garden Club, and otherwise speaking out for scientific awareness in the general public.

We believe that with her collaborative approach, fierce determination, and sheer grit, Jenny will be a hands-on and effective board member. Furthermore, with her background in scientific research and analysis, she pledges to thoroughly research and review options so that sound, evidence-based decisions can be made. Please consider Jenny Ludmer when you vote on November 7, and in the meantime, check out her website, LudmerForBOE.org.

Gabrielle Cayton-Hodges PhD, 

Amy Rogers, Ohad Mayblum

Dodds Lane

Forrest Meggers PhD

Dorann Avenue

Kosuke Imai

Randall Road

Ari Raivetz

Bertrand Drive

Yael Niv

Franklin Avenue

To the Editor:

We are writing to endorse Jess Deutsch for the Board of Education (BOE). As parents whose children recently graduated from our district, we feel that Jess is a clear choice to help our school district move forward. We have known Jess and her family for nearly 15 years, and can speak with certainty to her commitment to the children of our community and for the well-being of all Princeton children. As the founder of Princeton Balance, a board member of both the 101 Fund and of HiTops, as well as a former member of the Riverside PTO, Jess is perfectly suited to create the critical conversations and bring the changes needed to support all of our children in making the most of their educational experiences.

Jess is well versed in the multiple, complex issues that our district is facing while also having a keen understanding of the district’s strategic plan. She is a listener and problem solver, and she has the judgment and reason that will be necessary to confront the budgetary, space, and communication challenges, and to serve our whole community well. As a long-time public school teacher, I can attest to the importance of having BOE members who have a background in education who understand the needs of our children and district. With an advanced degree in education from Harvard, and years of experience as a professional education advisor, Jess is uniquely qualified to see the issues our district faces from the perspective of a parent, community leader, and, to speak the language of our students and educators. Jess will be at the forefront to ensure that our community will provide to every student in the district a first-rate education, recognizing the urgency of closing the opportunity gap and creative innovative options that will truly prepare our students to thrive. We know she takes seriously the responsibility of making decisions that affect our community for the long-term, and that require the judicious use of our taxpayer dollars.

Our three sons have now graduated from PPS as have Jess and Ted’s children. We are impressed and grateful that Jess is choosing to serve now, with the long view of our entire school system. We state with certainty and confidence that Jess has already had a positive imprint on our district. The school board needs her now. There are many fine candidates running who are looking to serve, and we thank them all for their commitment. Jess Deutsch has our enthusiastic support and is our choice for the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.

Steve and Nadia DiGregorio

William Livingston Court