Incumbents sworn in for another term as Kendal and Baglio selected to lead Princeton Board of Education

The Princeton Board of Education reorganization meeting took place Jan. 3 at the Valley Road Administration Building.

Incumbent school board members Deb Bronfeld, Dafna Kendal, and Susan Kantor were sworn in to serve three-year terms at the Jan. 3 reorganization meeting for the Princeton Board of Education.

The board voted unanimously to select Kendal to serve as the president for the second year in a row. Betsy Baglio, the longest-serving member of the current board, was chosen to serve as the vice president.

Kanter was the top vote-getter in the local school board election with 4,946 votes, while Kendal received 4,601 votes, and Bronfeld received 4,365 votes. Rita Rafalovsky received 3,496 votes and Lisa Wu received 2,160 votes.

During the reorganization meeting. Kendal briefly reviewed highlights of the 2021-22 academic year, which included a new contract with the teachers’ union that runs through 2027, welcoming a new superintendent of schools, and getting through another year of the pandemic.

During public comment, Harris Road resident Mary Clurman discussed efforts to clean up the Guyot Walk. She said with the help of the municipality and Mayor Mark Freda, cleanup efforts have continued and trees have been planted, along with blueberry bushes and wildflowers. She asked the school board to help support the cleanup efforts, noting that an abandoned toddler playground still needs to be cleaned up. A large piece of equipment has to be cut up with a saw in order to be moved. She asked the board if and when it can be done.

“More importantly, there is a lot of abandoned sports equipment at the end of the field that has been there for a decade. It harbors all kinds of weeds,” Clurman said. We (residents) can’t touch it because it is on school property.”

Kendal acknowledged that the board received an email from Clurman about the issue over the winter break, and said she hopes to have an update about progress on the playground issue at the board’s next public meeting on Jan. 24.

The board voted to hire an additional social worker for the high school. Board member Jean Durbin asked whether the new hire is bilingual. Superintendent Carol Kelley said she would need to check.

“If the person is not bilingual, what is the plan for assisting students as a school social worker for non-English speaking students? That’s important to know,” Durbin said. “I would think a lot of the folks that will need the assistance would be primarily Spanish-speaking.”

Kelley said this hire will be part of the Bridges program at the high school. The new position has been added because of the number of students at the high school who are served by the program.

The board voted to hire the Spiezle Architectural Group as its architect for 2023.

The following hires were approved by the board:

Susan Bertrand – Instructional assistant (M. Stewart), effective 01/23/23, salary $30,000 prorated.

Barbara Callahan – Executive secretary (Rep. L. Hoffman), Princeton Middle School, effective 01/23/23-06/30/23, salary $60,997 prorated.

Talyor Celenza – Special education reacher (Rep. S. Evans), Princeton Middle School, effective 03/06/23-06/30/23, salary $69,705 prorated.

Matthew Jones – Network and installations specialist (new), Princeton High School, effective 02/01/22-06/30/23, salary $55,000 prorated.

Chelsea Kilmer – Social worker (new position) Princeton High, effective 01/23/23-06/30/23, salary $70,179 prorated.

The board approved a joint transportation agreement between the Princeton Public Schools and the Lawrence Township School District. Lawrence will transport one Princeton student with two Lawrence students to Collier High School, a school for high school students with special needs located in Monmouth County. Princeton will pay Lawrence $13,097 to transport one student for the period from Dec. 19 of last year to June 30 of 2023.

Two proposals for consultants to evaluate the district’s math and science programs were rejected. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Kimberly Tew said the district put out a request for bids and only two firms submitted proposals. About 15 staff members reviewed them and felt the proposals were not robust enough. The science team said it has the capacity to do its own internal review of science. A new request for proposals will be developed for just the math portion.

“This has delayed things a little bit but we want to use the funds appropriately,” Tew said, adding that a new request for proposals would be posted after the bord formally rejected the bids.

At the end of the public meeting, the board moved to go into closed session to discuss confidential matters including “legal, negotiations, and confidential students matters.” Under the state’s Open Public Meetings act, public bodies are supposed to list the specific items to be discussed to the extend known. For example for litigation, they should list what specific litigation or potential litigation they will discuss. initials can be used or names can be redacted in cases where confidentiality related to students is an issue.

School board members will meet in-person every other month for 2023, and will hold meetings on Zoom alternate months. Baglio asked whether the in-person meetings could be hybrid meetings for people who want to participate but don’t want to meet in person or are sick. Many school boards and other public bodies in the state are holding such hybrid meetings.

School board member Michele Tuck Ponder said the district would need to amend its meeting policies to allow for Zoom meetings and hybrid meetings in preparation for a time when New Jersey’s state of emergency is lifted.

Princeton Board of Education Public Meeting ScheduleLocation
All in-person meetings are held at 7:30 p.m in the district’s administration building25 Valley Road
January 24, 2023in-person
February 7, 2023 budget workshop virtual
February 21, 2023virtual
March 14, 2023 – tentative budget adoptionnot avail. yet
March 28, 2023 not avail. yet
April 25, 2023 – budget hearingvirtual
May 9, 2023 – staff appointmentsnot avail. yet
May 23, 2023not avail. yet
June 13, 2023virtual
July 25, 2023not avail. yet
August 22, 2023virtual
 September 26, 2023 not avail. yet
October 17, 2023virtual
November 21, 2023not avail. yet
 December 12 , 2023virtual
January 2, 2024 reorganization meetingin-person
Board meeting schedule for the rest of 2024 to be adopted at the reorg. meeting