Letters: Kendal committed to the education and wellbeing of all students

I am writing to support Dafna Kendal’s candidacy for the Board of Education. I’ve known Dafna since our children started kindergarten together at Littlebrook Elementary School in the fall of 2012. I’ve long been impressed by Dafna’s commitment to the education and wellbeing 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 since she was first elected to the Board demonstrate the tenacity and vigor with which she approaches her role as a steward of our schools. Aware of the fiscal constraints facing our district, for instance, she established in 2018 an ad hoc Board committee on alternative revenue sources that secured approximately $800,000 in voluntary payments from the Institute for Advanced Study and the Princeton Theological Seminary, among others. A lawyer by training, Dafna discovered last year that the Cranbury Board of Education was not meeting its contractual obligation to fully compensate Princeton for special education services; as a result, our district will bill for the additional $150,000 for the 2019-20 school year. As an advocate of equity for all students, Dafna ensured that special education issues were added to teachers’ professional development topics; revised the district’s dress code to remove a prohibition on head scarves; and lobbied for aggressive recruitment efforts at HBCUs, resulting in a marked increase in the hiring of teachers of color. Alert to the importance of Board transparency and community engagement, Dafna added opportunities for public comment at Board meetings and introduced the practice of emailing summaries of monthly Board meetings to all district parents and staff. And as someone both deeply aware of the extraordinary contributions of the district’s teachers and committed to safeguarding the district’s financial resources, Dafna skillfully led negotiations to extend all three labor union contracts through 2020, turning what could have been an acrimonious, costly, and time-consuming ordeal into a mutually satisfactory process.

Dafna is, in short, the full package. As her impressive list of accomplishments demonstrates, she has the skills, the experience, and the zeal to be a highly effective Board member. Just as important, she’s running for the Board 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 wellbeing of our students continues to be our district’s number one priority. I enthusiastically support Dafna’s Board candidacy and I encourage my fellow Princeton residents to do the same.

Jane Manners
Wheatsheaf Lane