By Donald Gilpin
Two incumbents, Betsy Baglio and Brian McDonald, and two new candidates, Mara Franceschi and Jeffrey Liao, will compete in the November 2 election for three available seats on the Board of Education (BOE) of Princeton Public Schools ( PPS). The top three voters will win three-year terms on the BOE, starting in January 2022.
Just seven weeks before Election Day, Town Topics is launching a series of weekly Candidate Profiles in which candidates present a summary of their personal, academic and professional backgrounds; why they got involved in the schools and in this particular election; and what are their priorities for the future of the SPP.
Mara Franceschi leads:
âI consider few things to be more important than high quality public education for ALL of our children. With a new superintendent and other key staff, it is an exciting time in our district. However, the district also faces many challenges to ensure continued success. The main one of these challenges is to balance aging facilities in a context of increasing student numbers and budgetary stressors. Maintaining our facilities is both an investment in durable goods and the minimum required to provide a clean and healthy learning environment for our children. It is essential to succeed in balancing essential and necessary investments in our schools, while keeping tax increases to a minimum. To meet these challenges, I believe that transparent communication with and between all stakeholders in the community is essential.
âIn 2010, my husband Gaetano and I moved to Princeton for the excellent public schools and the opportunities they would provide for our three children – Max (17), Nico (15) and Bella (12). In the years that followed, our love for Princeton and its schools only grew. Our children attended Johnson Park Elementary School, Princeton Middle School and now Princeton High School. Our eldest is enrolled in an independent school outside the State. We strongly believe in choosing the school and finding the right learning environment for every child.
âSince moving to Princeton I have done a lot of volunteer work in schools, most recently on the PTO Board and more broadly at Johnson Park PTO as Treasurer for four years and then Chairman for three years. I believe that a strong parent-teacher relationship enriches the education process for all children, and I have been dedicated to building that strong bond. I have also served on the Princeton Citizen Finance Advisory Committee, as Assistant Treasurer of Friends of the Library, and continue to volunteer with many other nonprofits in the city. As an active volunteer in our schools and community, I strive to give back as much as this community has given to my family.
âI believe that public schools should be inclusive and welcoming places for all. I have been the new person to a school or city many times in my life. When I was 8, my family moved to North Carolina, where I completed my public high school education and attended college. Even at the age of 50, I never forgot what it was like to move to elementary school, with a German mother, to a place very culturally different from anything I had ever known. As a result, I embrace learning about new cultures and continued to move often, living in three different states and four different countries, before moving to Princeton to raise my children. The move taught me to appreciate different perspectives and to welcome the new person into the room. It’s a prospect that I cherish and that has fundamentally shaped who I am today.
âI’m also an extremely proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I earned a double major in Economics and German. I then got my MBA from Columbia University School of Business and hold the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter. In addition, I have over a decade of professional experience in the financial services and asset management industries, with companies such as GE Capital and Bank of America.
âWith my years of experience as a school volunteer and my background in finance, I believe I bring a valuable perspective to the table. I look forward to the opportunity to continue serving the Princeton community, all of our children and you as a member of the Education Board.
Next week, Brian McDonald will be in the spotlight, presenting his background and his perspective on PPS, followed in the following weeks by Jeffrey Liao and Betsy Baglio.