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Incumbent, newcomers secure seats for Princeton school board

Incumbent Princeton school board member Beth Behrend will return to the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education, along with newcomers Adam Bierman and Eleanor Hubbard, based on certified vote tallies following the Nov. 7 general election.

Hubbard was the top vote-getter with 4,296 votes, followed by Behrend, who earned 3,522 votes and Bierman, who picked up 3,432 votes.

Newcomer Rene Obregon Jr. received 3,354 votes, and incumbent school board member Michele Tuck-Ponder garnered 2,632 votes.

The term is for three years.

The vote tallies were certified by Mercer County officials and released Nov. 22. The certified vote tallies included early voting, mail-in ballots, Election Day voting and provisional ballots.

Behrend, who will begin her third term on the school board in January, served as the school board president from 2019 to 2021. She is the co-chair of the school board’s Policy and Long Term Planning committees. She also serves on the Operations Committee.

Behrend, who is a retired corporate attorney, said she sought a third term to ensure children continue to enjoy the benefits and opportunities offered by the Princeton Public Schools for years to come.

During her tenure, Behrend said, the school district jump-started literacy, early intervention and equitable access through free pre-Kindergarten classes, and also offered dyslexia screening.

The school board improved school facilities through two successful bond referendums that brought back state tax dollars to the district, she said. The State of New Jersey reimbursed the district for part of the debt service incurred by the bond referendums.

Bierman grew up in Princeton and graduated from Princeton High School. He is a social studies teacher at the state Division of Children and Families’ Mercer – Project Teach. It is an alternative school for expectant teen mothers that provides them with specialized academic instruction, life and parenting skills and career guidance.

Bierman said he ran for a seat on the school board because he is concerned about several issues – restoring trust, redacted math reports and the abrupt dismissal of popular Princeton High School Principal Frank Chmiel.

Bierman said there has been an over-reliance of paid consultants that supported what he claimed was an untested ideological math agenda. The result is a simplistic leveling down that deprives students of opportunities, he said.

Hubbard is a former Princeton University professor and also taught elementary school in the South Bronx, N.Y. She served as a trustee and board president of the University NOW nursery school, which is affiliated with Princeton University.

She said her background in education would provide a much-needed perspective on issues related to curriculum and educational quality, which has become an issue because of declining test scores.

Hubbard said her ability to bring people together and to find common ground would be an asset. Debates about excellence versus equity, for example, have been divisive because they have sometimes been framed in unnecessarily ideological, zero-sum ways, she said.

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