With the Hewlett-Woodmere School District election less than two months away, there are six candidates running for five open seats on the Board of Education, as of press time.
Current Board President Debra Sheinin, Trustee Judy Menashe, former Frustee Dr. Jon Altus, Shari Amitrano, Francois Tenenbaum and Tatyana Kopp should be on the ballot for the May 11 election. Incumbent Trustee Melissa Gates’ term is expiring and she has decided to not run for re-election.
The filing deadline for candidates is April 12. The top three vote getters will gain full three-year terms that begin on July 1. The next two vote getters will serve a two and one-year term, to complete the terms of former Trustees Paul Critti and Daniella Simon respectively. Both moved out of the district. A minimum of 63 petition signatures is required for nomination.
Sheinin, a trustee since 2018, was named president last July, along with Menashe, Altus, Amitrano and Tenenbaum are running as a bloc. “All five of us have something unique to offer to the district,” Sheinin said. “Were five active members of the community only looking for the best for the district. It’s so important that’s how the board remains.”
Sheinin added that the way the district and board were able to come up with a reopening plan shows the efficiency of the board. “We were one of the first districts to have our elementary schools full-time,” she said. “I think a lot of that has to do with how our board works with our superintendent. Nothing is just one person; this is a team collaboration.”
Menashe, a trustee also since 2018, said that the way the board has worked through the coronavirus pandemic is what she is most proud of. “We’re very proud of what we accomplished by giving our families every possible choice of education,” Menashe said. “Our biggest accomplishment in the most difficult time of our lives was that we were able to accomplish a task like this and make it work.”
Altus served on the board from 2012 to 2018. He said he became inspired to run again during the past year. “Over the past year, what really inspired me while working as a critical care doctor was the value of how the community came to uplift us,” Altus said. “I’ve lived within the district for over 30 years and my children were educated here. I just want to make sure that future generations have the same fantastic education that my children had.”
Amitrano, a Hewlett High School class of 1990 graduate, has two children attending district schools. She said that her family has been active in the Hewlett-Woodmere community for roughly 60 years.
“I’ve gone through the school district myself and three generations of our family also has,” Amitrano said. “ I’ve been extremely active since I’ve been here. I would love to have the opportunity to help other parents within the district understand and benefit from the value that we have in our school district to offer.”
Tenenbaum, an entrepreneur, has served in the PTA for nearly six years. He believes he would bring a “fresh perspective” to the board. “When my kids started going to school, I started getting involved to help shape the school district my kids will grow up in,” Tenenbaum said. “I believe I can bring an outside the box mentality to the board by coming with different ideas and perspective.”
Kopp works as a neonatologist (a doctor who treats newborns with birth defects, breathing disorders and infections) and is an active PTA member. An interest in being on the board she said has been on her mind for “quite some time.”
“I think that being a neonatologist and a mother it fosters an interest in helping children in any way possible,” Kopp said. “I feel that it is the right time for me to provide my knowledge and my skills to insure that our district continues to move on the path of academic excellence, while also providing our children with a safe learning environment against Covid.”
Kopp said that her traits of being an active listener and effective communicator would make her a great representative for district families. “School boards need thoughtful solutions to complex challenges, not politics and personal agendas,” she said. “I believe in bringing people together and always keeping the needs of our children and educators the top priority.”
Voting on May 11 is from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Woodmere Education Center, 1 Johnson Place, Woodmere More information on the election can be found at https://bit.ly/3cyJsKH.