Written by Michael Scro, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 09 May 2013 00:00
With three empty seats and four candidates for the upcoming Syosset Board of Trustee election on May 21 school board meeting, Tracy Frankel, Robert Gershon and William Weiner are all running on an independent ticket, advocating for “transparency, responsiveness and new perspectives.”
Trustees Lana Ajemian, Stephanie Avidon and Marc Herman will not be returning to the school board.
Frankel, a resident of Syosset since 2004, is a mother of two children in the school district and a PTA member.
“I have a vested interest in helping to raise the property values of our homes and elevating what is already an outstanding school district, while promoting fiscal responsibility,” Frankel said. I know I am not alone in believing that our community’s success is intrinsically tied to the success of our schools, our teachers and our students.”
As the daughter of two teachers, Frankel says she is “keenly aware of the pressures and constraints facing our teachers and our children on a daily basis - I can personally attest to the lifelong benefits our children can reap if we continue to strive to offer a broad range of programs in the sports, arts and academic arenas.”
Frankel says she will bring “a professional, homeowner, a current Board Member of the Shaloma Chapter of Hadassah and an attendee of school, athletic and PTA events” to the school board, and believes there is a “growing, genuine and valid interest” from the community to have more transparency on issues that concern the community’s children, school staff, leadership and tax payers.
“I would like for the public to feel that they have an opportunity to voice their opinion and have their questions answered clearly and in a timely manner,” she said.
Frankel plans to suggest modifications to the current Board Meeting procedure so that each public speaker feels more welcome to speak, has sufficient time to speak, and receives as complete and clear of a response as possible immediately after their question is asked.
Gershon, a member of the school district since 2003, said he and his wife Pam were looking for a “community with a top-rated school district,” and aims to keep things that way.
“We feel that we made the right decision in that our two children have been receiving a top notch education,” Gershon said. “We have been members of the PTA since 2004. I have been involved in community activities such as coaching baseball, football and volunteering at various school functions over the years.”
With a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts and having majored in Political Science, Gershon attended Brooklyn Law School and is a former Assistant District Attorney. Gershon has served as a Special Prosecutor three time, sits on a Judiciary Screening Committee and is the immediate past President of one of the Bar associations in New York City.
Gershon also served as Bar Association treasurer and Chairperson of the Assigned Counsel Screening Committee, and currently works as an attorney in private practice.
“In the past, parents have been shut out and frustrated by the lack of information coming from the School Board,” he said, expressing concerns about transparency. My running mates and I would seek greater input from the school community and give them a voice at Board meetings.”
Gershon supports increasing the amount of time the public may speak at meetings, and advocates questions and concerns to be submitted by email or regular mail for those who cannot attend.
“Another issue that I feel is important is safety of our students and faculty in the wake of recent tragedies we have all been following in the news,” Gershon said. “I would advocate for an exploratory committee to look into what we can do to maximize the safety and security of the children and staff members in our schools.”
Weiner comes from a family of educators, with his father a teacher, university professor, and the Dean of the School of Education at Fordham University; his sister a teacher for many years; and his wife Caryn a high school teacher for over 20 years, said his decision to run for trustee is based on the “strong reputation of the Syosset Schools.”
Weiner joined the Birchwood Civic Association (BCA), representing en estimated 1300 homes in East Birchwood, where he was chairman of the Syosset Education Committee.
“I attended Syosset Board meetings and reported on those meetings back to the BCA,” Weiner said. “I am now completing my second term as President of the BCA and have continued attending Syosset Board meetings.”
Weiner has a BS in Business Administration, with a concentration in Management Information Systems from Boston University, and an MS in Information Systems from The American University. He is currently working for Standard and Poor’s Rating Services.
Weiner says the community expects the school district to deliver excellence while being financially responsible.
“Maintaining this balance benefits our property values, taxpayers and most importantly our children,” Weiner said. “By sharing detailed, timely information, the board and community can work with the administration to make more informed decisions and ensure we adhere to the state mandates that affect our budget and programs.”
Joining his running mates in the urgency for transparency, Weiner says: “When full transparency exists between the administration, school board and community, our students will benefit - As a Syosset Board of Education Trustee, I plan on working to implement the appropriate policy changes to make this happen.”