By Donald Gilpin
In a February 18 special meeting that Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) President Beth Behrend described as “for a change, all about excitement and hope for the future,” the BOE, in a “unanimous and enthusiastic” vote, welcomed Carol L. Kelley as the new superintendent of the district. Pending approval by the county superintendent, Kelley will begin her tenure on July 1, 2021, when Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso will step down. Galasso has been at the helm since July 1, 2020, when he succeeded the previous superintendent Steve Cochrane.
The BOE members, who have been engaged in the search process over the past year, all spoke up at the hour-long meeting to welcome Kelley, to express their enthusiasm to begin working with her, and to comment on the qualities that led them to select her to lead the PPS. She will receive a four-year contract at $240,000 per year.
Kelley has served in education for 27 years, with advanced degrees in education and business and work as superintendent of schools both in Branchburg Township, New Jersey, from 2012 to 2015 and currently in her sixth year as superintendent of the Oak Park Elementary School District 97, a PreK-8 public school district outside of Chicago. The BOE members praised Kelley’s superior qualities as a listener to all voices, as an educational leader with the ability to help PPS narrow the achievement gap for disadvantaged students, as a passionate champion of students, as a consensus builder with a commitment for consensus-building, and also a commitment to data-based decision-making.
“The most important thing to the Board is achievement for all of its students,” said BOE member Dafna Kendal. “There has been a persistent gap in opportunity in our district for students of color, students from homes with lower socio-economic status, and students with special needs. It is long past due that we focus on narrowing these gaps. Dr. Kelley has experience and success in helping all students succeed. We are confident that Dr. Kelley will help us narrow these gaps. Beyond a doubt she was the best candidate for this position.” more