Princeton voters will choose from among four candidates, including two incumbent school board members, when they go to the polls Nov. 5 to fill three open seats on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education.
Incumbent school board members Deb Bronfeld and Greg Stankiewicz are each seeking another three-year term. They are being challenged by former school board member Dafna Kendal and newcomer Susan Kanter.
Bronfeld has lived in Princeton for more than 20 years. Her children are graduates of Princeton High School.
Bronfeld said she wants to make the school better, but without burdening the taxpayers. She said she plans to focus on the school district budget to restore its reserve account and to work smarter with the money that the district has in place. She also wants to meet with the institutions in town to discuss funding opportunities for the district.
Focusing on student climate and culture also interests Bronfeld. She wants to focus on improving their health, safety and welfare in areas such as vaping, smarter homework assignments, mental health, cheating, stress and life after high school.
Bronfeld also pointed to the need to maintain and clean the school buildings and grounds, and to pursue optimal space utilization in the six school buildings.
Kanter, who is the newcomer among the four candidates, has lived in Princeton for more than 20 years. Her children are graduates of Princeton High School.
Kanter said she is running for the school board to help ensure that every student finds joy, achievement and connection in the schools.
Kanter said the school bond referendum process revealed to her the need for more communication, community partnerships, research and planning before proposing significant projects. She led tours of the high school to show community members that improvements and expansions were needed.
Based on that experience, she said, she understands the importance of reaching out an listening to the community. Communication is key if the public is to have confidence in the school board’s decisions, she said. Public confidence will be needed as the board tackles the issues of equity, achievement, budgets, facility planning and sustainability.
Kendal, who is a former school board member, said she is running because she wants to ensure that every child receives an excellent education and that the board is focused on fiscal responsibility. She also wants to make certain that the school buildings are maintained.
Kendal said the school board raised the property tax by the maximum amount allowed, and still had to cut staff by 3%. The result is increased class sizes, she said, adding that while budget cuts were unavoidable, they could have been made without affecting the students.
Tough decisions need to be made, Kendal said, but care must be taken not to impact the quality of the students’ education. Reducing supervisory positions would have been an option, rather than making cuts that affected the classroom, she said.
Kendal said she understands taxpayers’ concerns that tax dollars are spent wisely. She said that during her previous term, she negotiated $800,000 in voluntary payments from institutions and that it should continue to be pursued by the school board.
Stankiewicz, whose daughter is a Princeton High School senior, said he wants another term on the school board so he can help carry out projects approved by voters in a $26.9 million bond referendum last year.
Stankiewicz said the school district is in dire straits financially. The type of budget situation that the district is facing now and in the future is one that cannot be resolved by cutting expenses, he said. The district will need to increase revenue and to increase help from the state to counteract state cutbacks that have led to budgetary issues.
Finally, vaping is an issue that faces students in Princeton and nationwide, he said. The school board has adopted policies that address vaping, and it has worked with the administration on proven methods that help students stop vaping, he said.