September 28, 2022

Supporting Dafna Kendal for Re-election to Board of Education

To the Editor:

I am writing to support Dafna Kendal’s candidacy for the Board of Education. I’ve known Dafna since our children, who are now both sophomores at Princeton High School, started kindergarten together at Littlebrook Elementary School in the fall of 2012. I was thrilled when Dafna joined the Board in 2016, and throughout her two terms I’ve been continually impressed by Dafna’s commitment to the education and well-being of all of Princeton’s students; by her ingenuity in devising creative solutions to budgetary challenges; by her deep respect for our district’s teachers; and by her dedication to open, transparent communications with all town residents.

Dafna’s many achievements during her time on the Board demonstrate the tenacity and vigor with which she approaches her role. Over her six years on the Board, she has, among many other achievements, secured over a million dollars in voluntary payments to the school district from Princeton’s multiple institutions of higher learning. As someone both deeply aware of the extraordinary contributions of the district’s teachers and committed to safeguarding the district’s financial resources, Dafna has led multiple negotiations with all three labor unions, each time reaching a mutually satisfactory outcome without costly and time-consuming acrimony. Today, thanks to Dafna’s efforts, all unionized staff are under contract through 2024 and all teachers are under contract through 2027. Earlier this year, Dafna was part of the leadership team that successfully steered through an essential referendum to repair our schools’ leaky roofs, taking advantage of state aid to cover approximately 30 percent of the total cost, and saving Princeton taxpayers millions of dollars in the process.

An advocate of equity for all students, Dafna has ensured that special education issues are at the forefront of professional development while fighting for curricula that enables all students to thrive. Alert to the importance of Board transparency, Dafna added opportunities for public comment at Board meetings and introduced the practice of emailing parents and staff summaries of monthly Board meetings. During COVID, Dafna was indefatigable in her efforts to keep the schools open for students while pushing for improved HVAC, outdoor tents, and other measures to keep students and teachers safe. Recently, Dafna and her colleagues moved with impressive speed to hire additional mental health professionals to respond to a disturbing rise in mental health struggles among our students.

As Dafna’s accomplishments demonstrate, she is an extraordinarily effective Board member. And she’s running for another term for all the right reasons: to build on our district’s outstanding record; to be a prudent steward of one of our town’s most valuable resources; and to ensure that the education and well-being of our students continues to be our district’s number one priority. As the mother of three PPS students, I am profoundly grateful to Dafna for her tireless work on behalf of our district. I could not be more enthusiastic about Dafna’s candidacy, and I encourage all Princetonians to vote for Dafna on November 8!

Jane Manners
Wheatsheaf Lane