Dana Krug, a four-term school board member of West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in Mercer County, spent much of her career as a marketing and project management professional, primarily focusing on education.
As the parent of three children who went to school in the district, including a child still enrolled, she was happy to get the chance to put her strategic experience, strong planning and analytic abilities and communication expertise to work as a member of the board.
In School Board Notes’ new School Board Member spotlight feature, which the newsletter launched to celebrate Gov. Phil Murphy proclaiming January 2022 as School Board Recognition Month, Krug shares what she’s learned on her school board member journey, why she continues to serve and more.
Tell us a little bit about the board of education you serve on.
I have served the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District for almost 11 years.
Our district is a pre-K-12 district that includes 10 schools and almost 10,000 students. We are a Mercer County-based suburban school district.
Why did you decide to serve on your local board of education?
I wanted to help to make the educational experience in my district better for all children, regardless of their background.
My employment had also often involved education: I worked at The New School, a university in Manhattan for six years doing marketing. I also spent 10 years at Dow Jones doing education marketing.
As a parent, I had always volunteered at every opportunity to support my children’s education, even when I was working full time. When my oldest child was in middle school, I became the president of that school’s PTA, and one of the members encouraged me to run for the board in April 2011. In that election, there were three candidates running and two board seats, and I was the largest vote getter. I also ran in 2014, 2017 and 2020, with the last election being the only time I ran unopposed.
One of the reasons I wanted to get involved with the board was to have consistency across the schools. For example, if a second grader attended one school in the district, that student could easily move to one of the other three district elementary schools and have a consistent experience in terms of curriculum and services.
What has surprised you about being a member of your local board of education?
Initially, I did not realize that board members can play an advocacy role in state education policies and regulations.
I am always surprised that community members believe that the role of the board member is broader than it is. I often share with members of the public that we do not run the schools, but we make sure that the schools are run well.
Community members also think that we are compensated for the work we do. We are not compensated in any way.
What major challenges have you faced as a school board member?
The district administration updated the criteria for participation in the honors and accelerated math program several years ago. Because our district is high performing and math and science focused, there were protests and even a news feature in The New York Times.
Several years after that, we had a community outcry over the hiring of Class III officers and how these officers would treat students in the school buildings.
Of course, the pandemic has significantly changed K-12 public education. The implementation of a robust remote education program was handled very well by our administration and staff. The ability to pivot on short notice is a great testament to our staff. But this has not been without issues and concerns. WW-P cancelled one season of athletics, which caused community discontent. Public education will be dealing with the issues that the pandemic laid bare, including inequities, social and emotional learning and supports and learning acceleration for years to come.
What school board accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
Updates and enhancements to the curricula to provide students with many opportunities. Examples include dual language immersion programs in Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin) beginning in kindergarten and building through middle school; Advanced Placement course offerings expanded to AP psychology, AP microeconomics and AP environmental science; and updates to the special education program, including job training and assisting with the transition to post graduate life. Also, a $115 million referendum with no tax impact passed by the community in 2018 to add classrooms, gyms, dance studios and media centers. These programs and projects provide all learners with opportunities to learn and grow.
How has your school board responded to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?
The best we could. We have supported our superintendent and staff in the decisions they have had to make, in conjunction with the local health departments.
How does the New Jersey School Boards Association help you carry out your duties as a school board member?
My roles with the New Jersey School Boards Association have allowed me to meet many board members from across the state. We share our best practices with each other.
County meetings on timely topics, NJSBA training opportunities and the annual NJSBA conference have greatly enhanced my ability to carry out my role as a board member. When county meetings went online, I had the opportunity to attend every county’s meeting at least once. The perspective and experiences of board members across the state are invaluable.
This fall, I was honored to have had the opportunity to present at the NJSBA conference on “Best Practices in Boardsmanship” with our WW-P superintendent and a board member colleague from another district, who I met through my involvement with NJSBA.
Two years ago, I was appointed the Mercer County delegate to the NJSBA Board of Directors and last spring, I was elected the Mercer County School Boards Association president. As a delegate, I work with board colleagues across the state to help to shape and govern the NJSBA. As the Mercer County president, I am working with Mercer County School Board Association leadership to have in-depth quarterly conversations on topics pertinent to board members, particularly in our county.
If your school board does something special to honor school board members during January, which is School Board Recognition Month, or anytime throughout the year, tell us about it.
In January, our district adopts a board resolution commemorating School Board Recognition Month and thanking the board members who have served in the last year. Our administration also gives an inspirational book to each board member.
Krug noted that the views expressed in this article are hers alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of her board.
Enjoy these resources and information on celebrating School Board Recognition Month in New Jersey.
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