Residents in the Lawrence School District could party like it is 2018. Three years ago the ballot for the Board of Education was identical to this year’s with incumbent Trustee Heshy Blachorsky being challenged by Asher Matathias and Trustee Abel Feldhamer running unopposed. All terms are three years.
Blachorsky, 45, running for his third term, touted how the school district, which had already distributed Chromebooks to many of its students previously, expanded the distribution to all the grades when the coronavirus pandemic struck, along with getting Wi-Fi hotspots to the students who needed it, and turned to remote learning “as seamlessly as it could be.”
He also highlighted that the district saw an increase in reading levels at the elementary level during the pandemic, which Blachorsky credits to the educational decision-making of Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen that the board supports wholeheartedly, he said.
“I’m a proponent of every child in the district and try to make sure that all the students have the best opportunity and tools to succeed,” said Blachorsky, a Cedarhurst resident who is a bank quality control supervisor.
In the past few years, Blachorsky has organized a basketball game between Lawrence High School students and police officers from the 4th Precinct. “Misconceptions are borne out of ignorance,” he said, noting that Lawrence High has also hosted the Model Congress competition for yeshivas as well as assemblies for the private schools.
Running for the eighth consecutive year, Matathias, a Woodmere resident, prioritizes negotiating a new teachers contract (the stalemate between the Lawrence School District and the Lawrence Teachers Association is going on 10 years) and wants at-large elections for trustee instead of the current specific seat voting, where candidates challenge an incumbent.
Matathias, 77, also wants attention directed to what he called “our less-achieving youth,” with special attention paid to “to immigrants and refugees as they acclimate to a new country.” He also wants to see more diversity on the board, opposes the school budget but supports the Peninsula Public Library budget.
A lawyer and a businessman Feldhamer, 43, a Cedarhurst resident, is running for his fifth term. He also pointed to how the district was in a better position than others to transition to distance learning during the pandemic because of the previous Chromebook distribution and how Lawrence was planning for a 1:1 Chromebook to student ratio.
“Looking back at the past year is representative of our accomplishments,” he said. “The past year was extremely challenging. Our objective is to stay ahead of the curve. No one saw the pandemic coming, but the fact that we got the Wi-Fi hotspots to all the students and the Chromebooks is representative of the district and this incredible administration from Dr. Pedersen down.”
Noting the teamwork that it takes to get things accomplished, Feldhamer views himself as a conduit of the services the district should provide to its residents. “As a board member, I aspire to be responsive and I’ve done that to reach out and constantly speak to people. We’re always looking for ways to expand and enhance services.”
Voting is on May 11 from 7 am. to 10 p.m. at these locations: Primary School at the Number Two School, 1 Donahue Ave., Inwood; Lawrence Middle School, 195 Broadway, Lawrence; Lawrence High School, 2 Reilly Road, Cedarhurst and Atlantic Beach Village Hall, 65 The Plaza.