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Board Candidates Interviewed on GNPS/TV

Televised interviews of the candidates who are running for the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education Trustee position can now be viewed on demand via They may also be viewed in the incorporated villages of Great Neck on Cablevision Channel 75 and on Verizon Channel 32, at 8, 9, and 10 a.m., and at 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 p.m. The program is 37 minutes in length.

Candidates were interviewed in the order in which they returned their petitions. They are: Donald Panetta, Josh Ratner, Nikolas Kron, Nicholas Toumbekis, Lori Beth Schwartz, and Donna Peirez. Two of the candidates, Michael Darvish and Grant Toch, could not attend the afternoon interviews.

Carol Frank conducted the interviews. Ms. Frank is the former associate editor of the Great Neck Record and a current board member of the Water Authority of Great Neck North. She conducted similar interviews for a Board election a number of years ago.

Following are the four questions asked of each candidate. Candidates were not given these questions in advanced. Candidate answers were timed. (1) People decide to run for elected office for a variety of reasons. What is motivating you to run for Board trustee, and what experiences in your life, personal and/or professional, make you feel qualified or prepared for this position? (2) What do you see the role of a Board of Education trustee to be, and what do you think are the functions of a Board of Education? (3) What do you see as being the biggest challenge or challenges facing the school district both next year, and for the next five years? (4) The Board of Education publicized and formed two new committees this year: the Citizens Advisory Committee and the Financial Advisory Committee, with membership determined by lottery. Did you apply to serve on either committee, and if not, why not?

District residents are reminded that voting for the School Board Trustee position will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Qualified voters residing north of the LIRR can vote at the Baker School. Qualified voters residing south of the LIRR can vote at South High School.

For further information regarding voting, including registration and absentee ballots, please phone the district clerk, schooldays between 9 a.m.–4 p.m., at (516) 441-4020.


Board of Education Goals for 2016–17

Each year, the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education announces its Goals for the coming school year. At its Nov. 14 meeting, the Board announced their Goals for 2016–17, as follows:

1 - Election of a new member of the Great Neck Board of Education to replace Monique Bloom. Completion of a comprehensive orientation of the newly elected Board member in order to facilitate the successful person's transition into his/her new duties.

2 - Formation and commencement of two, new Board committees: Citizens' Advisory Committee and Financial Advisory Committee.

3 - Completion of the planning process for a district-wide facility rehabilitation and construction plan, including educational enhancements, and the thorough communication and discussion of the plan with all interested community groups. Among other issues to be discussed will be the manner of financing the construction and enhancements, and the use of bonds for all or a significant portion of the work.

4. - To continue working with both the school and larger community to best serve the needs of all students, their families, and residents.

District residents are reminded that two important school-related votes will be coming up - The first will be the vote for the Board Trustee position, on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. Second will be the vote for the Bond Referendum, on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. Sites for both votes will be open from 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Sites will be the same for both votes: Baker School (for qualified voters residing north of the LIRR) and South High School (for qualified voters residing south of the LIRR). For further information regarding the Board Trustee vote and/or the Bond Referendum vote, including registration and absentee ballots, phone the district clerk, schooldays between 9 a.m.–4 p.m., at (516) 441-4020.


Student Named Piano Composition Winner


Benjamin Rossen, a ninth-grader at South High School, has been named the winner for Composition for Piano Solo, Junior Division. The award is given by the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), New York State. Benjamin now advances to the Eastern Division Competition, with results to be announced mid-December. He recently won another MTNA award for the Junior Performance Competition in piano. Benjamin's music teachers at South High are Michael Schwartz, Dr. Pamela Levy, and Mark Boschen. The MTNA is a nonprofit organization comprised of 22,000 independent and collegiate music teachers committed to advancing music study and music making, and to supporting the professionalism of music teachers. Founded in 1876, it is the oldest professional music association in the United States.


Teacher Named LIMHF Music Educator


Joseph Rutkowski, North High School instrumental music teacher, recently received the 2015 Music Educator of Note Award from the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. He was recognized for his outstanding achievements in music education and for his exceptional dedication, skill, and knowledge, and for being respected and admired by students, colleagues, and parents. The award is given each year to only one music educator but is presented every-other-year, so that Mr. Rutkowski received the 2015 Award at this year's award ceremony. "I am completely honored, flattered, and humbled to be recognized by LIMHF," said Mr. Rutkowski. "It is really the support of our parents, administration, and the Board of Education that enables our students to make the accomplishments of which we are all so proud." Mr. Rutkowski was nominated by Neil Saggerson, fine and performing arts department head; Dr. Janine Robinson, vocal music teacher; and Karen Lee, president of the parents' Music Boosters group. A panel of judges from LIMHF selected the winner, based on the history, dedication, and accomplishments of the candidate. "I was delighted to contribute to the nominating process for Joe," said Mr. Saggerson. "He is deserving of the honor because of his dedication to music education and the support and encouragement he gives to his students." Mr. Rutkowski is the ninth music educator to receive the Music Educator of Note Award. The award program began in 2007.


Adult Learning Center's Food Drive


Each year, just before Thanksgiving, the students at the Great Neck Public Schools Adult Learning Center donate food to Long Island Cares, Harry Chapin Food Bank. Joining them at the holiday luncheon were Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz; Board Trustee Susan Healy; Superintendent Teresa Prendergast; Assistant Superintendents Stephen Lando, Kelly Newman, and John Powell; and Director of Adult Basic Education Errin Hatwood.