Opinion: Beth Behrend has extraordinary talent as a team leader

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Beth Behrend

We are pleased to let our friends and neighbors know how enthusiastically we support Beth Behrend’s candidacy for re-election to the Princeton School Board.

Beth reached out to us last year asking that we volunteer our time to join with a number of other Princeton residents with deep and varied professional backgrounds in public finance, planning and development, and advise the board on the immensely-complicated challenges our public schools are facing over the next few years. While both of us have spent most of our careers in the private sector, Harry previously served as Finance chair of the Princeton Board of Education, and Bob served as an elected member of the former Princeton Borough Council.

Public school enrollments are rising, as Princeton continues to grow and redevelop as a very attractive place for families to live and work. Enrollment growth is already placing significant stress on the capacities of our teachers, and also our school facilities, a number of them built well over a half-century ago. Our projections indicate enrollment growth is likely to continue into the next 5 years and beyond.

Meanwhile, state-mandated spending caps on school budgets impose severe constraints on the board’s financial options to address these pressures. Our team of volunteer professionals has been deeply engaged this past year with Beth and her district and board colleagues in assembling the best data available on these challenges and supporting the work of outside planning professionals who are developing smart short-term and long-term planning options to address these issues.

In the course of our personal engagement in this strategic planning process, we have been impressed with Beth’s capacity to listen and learn from others, including parents, staff and students. We have also been impressed with her initiative to reach out to dozens of other professionals in our community who are now becoming engaged, and are bringing to this process the best research available and sharing best practices from their experiences in the private sector and in government.

And then, in March, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly made the task of strategic planning immensely more complicated. During this past six months, Beth’s steady leadership, her extremely high level of energy, work ethic and commitment of time, and her extraordinary talent as a team leader of this substantial public enterprise in Princeton, have for us been singularly impressive.

Princeton is most fortunate to have had Beth Behrend serve on the board the past 3 years. We enthusiastically urge our friends and neighbors to support her re-election on Nov. 3.

Bob Powell
Harry Levine
Princeton