Board President Mitchell Greebel, Trustee Daniella Simon, Paul Critti and Asaf Fligelman are running for three Hewlett-Woodmere Board of Education trustee seats on May 21.
The two top vote-getters win the three-year terms. The third highest will serve the balance of an expiring term beginning on May 21. The term expires on June 30, 2020. Trustee Scott McInnes is stepping down as he is moving out of the school district. Candidate petitions were due on April 22. Each candidate needed to obtain at least 26 signatures.
Greebel, 59, a trustee since 2013, has been president since last year. A lawyer, his practice includes matrimonial and family law, corporate, commercial litigation and real estate. “I’m committed to working for this community and this board as a whole is committed to the work they perform,” he said. “I don’t think there’s another Board of Education in New York that starts the budget process as early as we do.” Greebel noted that for Hewlett-Woodmere it began in October.
Simon, 42, a trustee since 2016, lives in Hewlett and is a graduate of Hewlett High School. In the past, she has served as the president of the PTA at Franklin Early Childhood Center. She highlighted her and the other board members advocacy for the district’s children as a reason to be re-elected. “I feel that in my time as a board member, the board members and myself have done a great job of representing all the children within the school district,” Simon said. “This includes children who attend private schools.”
Homework Helpers, a program that she helped put in place this year, is an example of that advocacy, she noted. The program offers assistance to Franklin, Hewlett and Ogden elementary school students from teachers after school. “Homework can be difficult for children to do these days with the prominence of Common Core,” she said. “The program is not costly and it shows how we as a board do a great job at balancing academic excellence with fiscal prudence.” The total cost for the program is $2,627.
Critti, 58, has lived in Gibson for roughly 30 years. His son, 14, attends Woodmere Middle School, which he said, played a role in deciding to run. “My son is entering high school next year and the board will make decisions that impact the high schoolers and their futures,” Critti said. “I want to help make decisions that will positively impact the future of my son and the other students of the district.”
He retired from the New York Police Department in 2002 after 20 years. He is now a private security and investigations professional. He served as the president for the school district’s Special Education PTA for the past four years. Critti believes in community involvement. “I’ve always believed in being proactive and not sitting on the sidelines,” he said. “For the past few years, I’d say that I’ve been to 95 percent of the board meetings.”
Fligelman, 34, has lived in Hewlett for roughly four years. He works in the financial industry, which he believes will give the board a different point of view on things, especially when it comes to the budget. “I don’t think it’s necessary to cost-cut our budget,” he said. “We have an issue of not attracting enough young families to stop the public school population from declining so we have to find a way to try to flat-line the property taxes in this district. I’m not looking to drastically change things. I’m just looking to bring a different perspective and shine a light on certain issues.”
The election is on Tuesday, May 21. Voting is from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the Woodmere Education Center, at 1 Johnson Place in Woodmere.
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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted Fligelman as saying that "We have an issue of young families moving out of the school district." Fligelman actually stated: "We are not attracting enough young families to stop the public school population from declining."