September 15, 2021

BOE Candidate Profile: Mara Franceschi, Financial Analyst, PTO President at JP

By Donald Gilpin

Mara Franceschi

Two incumbents, Betsy Baglio and Brian McDonald, and two new candidates, Mara Franceschi and Jeffrey Liao, will be competing in the November 2 election for three available seats on the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE). The top three vote-getters will win three-year terms on the BOE, beginning in January 2022.

With just seven weeks until election day, Town Topics is beginning a series of weekly candidate profiles in which the candidates will present a summary of their personal, academic, and professional backgrounds; why they got involved in the schools and in this particular election; and what their priorities are for the future of the PPS.

Mara Franceschi is leading off:

“I consider few things more important than a high-quality public education for ALL our children. With a new superintendent and other key personnel, it is an exciting time in our district. However, the district must also navigate many challenges to ensure continued success. Chief among those challenges is balancing aging facilities against a backdrop of increasing student enrollment and budget stressors. Maintaining our facilities is both an investment in valuable hard assets and the minimum required to provide a clean and healthy learning environment for our children. Successfully balancing critical, necessary investments in our schools, while keeping tax increases to a minimum, is essential. To address these challenges, I believe that transparent communication with, and among, all the stakeholders in the community is paramount. 

“In 2010, my husband Gaetano and I moved to Princeton for the excellent public schools and opportunities they would provide our three children — Max (17), Nico (15), and Bella (12).  In the ensuing years, our love for Princeton and its schools has only grown. Our children have attended Johnson Park Elementary School, Princeton Middle School, and now Princeton High School. Our oldest is enrolled in an out-of-state independent school. We firmly believe in school choice and finding the right learning environment for each individual child.

“Since moving to Princeton, I have volunteered extensively in the schools, most recently on the PTO Council and most broadly, on the Johnson Park PTO as treasurer for four years and then president for three years. I believe a strong parent-teacher relationship enriches the education process for all children, and I have dedicated myself to building that strong connection. I also served on Princeton’s Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, as assistant treasurer for the Friends of the Library, and I continue to volunteer with many other nonprofits in town. As an active volunteer in our schools and community, I strive to give back as much as this community has given my family.

“I believe that public schools should be an inclusive and welcoming place for all. I have been the new person in a school or city many times in my life. At the age of 8, my family relocated to North Carolina where I went on to complete public high school and attend college. Even at the age of 50, I have never forgotten what it was like to move during elementary school, with a mother who is German, to a place very culturally different from anything I had ever experienced.  As a result, I embrace learning about new cultures and continued to move often, living in three different states and four different countries, before settling in Princeton to raise my children. Moving taught me to have an appreciation for different perspectives and to welcome the new person in the room.  It is a perspective I cherish and one that has fundamentally formed who I am today.

“I am also an extremely proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I double majored in economics and German. I went on to earn my MBA from Columbia University’s School of Business and I am a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder. Additionally, I have over a decade’s work experience in the financial services and asset management industries, working for firms such as GE Capital and Bank of America.

“With my years of experience volunteering in the schools and my background in finance, I believe I bring a valuable perspective to the table. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the Princeton community, all our children, and you as a member of the Board of Education.”

Next week Brian McDonald will be in the spotlight, presenting his background and views on the PPS, followed in subsequent weeks by Jeffrey Liao and Betsy Baglio.