New board of education Trustee David Dubner hadn’t lived in Roslyn long before he became involved in the school district’s administration.
After moving to East Hills with his wife and children in 2007, Dubner began attending board of education meetings, and soon thereafter was appointed to the district’s Citizens Audit Advisory Committee, which reviews the district’s financial statements.
“I’ve always been interested, since I was young, in the school systems and in school administrations and boards, how schools operate,” he said. “I’ve had that interest even before I had children that entered into schooling.”
On May 21, the Roslyn community elected Dubner, 37, to a trustee position in its school district’s election, to fill the remaining two years on the term of former Trustee Dani Kline, who resigned at the board of education’s April 4 meeting.
“I’m impressed with the dedication and commitment of the current board,” Dubner said. “Each of the board members really cares about the community, and I’ve been observing the board for awhile, but everyone seems to want to do right by the children. [Superintendent of Schools] Dan Brenner, [Assistant Superintendent of Business] Joe Dragone, [Assistant Superintendent to the Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction] Allison Brown – they are extremely qualified people and we’re really fortunate to have them working with us.”
Dubner earned 588 votes in the election, finishing third behind incumbent trustees Bruce Valauri and Steven Litvack, who received 601 votes and 595 votes, respectively, and full three-year terms.
“One thing I’ve learned about school boards, from the outside looking in, is that it’s important to remember we’re trying to make the school district the best it can be,” Dubner said. “Community building begins with our schools, and I want to partner with students, teachers, administration and the broader Roslyn community to ensure our schools are a beacon for other districts to follow.”
Though Dubner may be an outsider to participating in board of education meetings as a trustee – the board’s brief May 21 meeting, in which the passing of its $102 million 2013-14 budget was formally acknowledged, was his first – he said his professional experience, as an accountant, attorney and now investment banker, would positively contribute to the “prudent financial planning” the district has practiced in recent years.
“Having a financial, legal and accounting background positions me well to understand the functions associated with the opportunities and limitations that exist within a school district,” Dubner said. “We operate on a budget, so fiscal prudence is crucial, and having my background enables me to ask intelligent questions and be thoughtful and deliver as positive a contribution as I can.”
Dubner earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from American University, which led to a job at one of the “big four” accounting firms, Deloitte and Touche.
But Dubner said he was “eager for more” in his professional career, and enrolled at Fordham University law school, eventually breaking into corporate law for Cravath, Swaine and Moore.
Following his time at Cravath, Dubner’s career shifted again, this time to the investment banking industry, for Goldman Sachs, where he currently works.
“It was somewhat seamless because each experience I’ve had laid the foundation for the next role,” Dubner said. “My tax experience at Deloitte helped me approach and think about law school in a diligent fashion and also prepared me for a career in tax law. It’s one that built on the other, and going from law into banking has been a natural progression as well.”
But unlike fellow Trustee Adam Haber, who is among the Democratic candidates in this year’s election for Nassau County executive, and despite his career in both the finance and law fields, Dubner said he has no future plans to pursue a political career.
“I want to do right by my community, by my children, and that’s really all the personal fulfillment I’m looking for,” Dubner said. “A life filled with family and community service makes for a fulfilling life, and that’s what I plan to do.”
The district’s Citizens Audit Advisory Committee was established after a multimillion-dollar grand larceny scandal in 2004 in which $11.2 million in school funds were used to pay for a variety of personal expenses for members of the board of education.
Though a distrust between the Roslyn community and its school district soon formed, Dubner said, the board of education that was elected in the aftermath of the scandal implemented a series of “controls,” including the audit committee, to ensure similar events do not happen again.
“We’ve come a long way since the scandal, and the current board has a good mix of those who have served dating back to the aftermath of the scandal and some of the younger board members who weren’t here or in town for all of that, so there’s a good mix of experience and professional diversity,” Dubner said.
Dubner described the relationships between the board of education, administrations at each of the district’s schools, teacher’s union and residents as “healthy,” and said he looked forward to enabling the achievements of Roslyn students – which this school year included a Presidential Scholar and National Merit Scholarship winner, among a host of science research awards – as a member of the school board.
“It’s like, you never forget where you come from. That’s sort of the mantra we follow in the district,” Dubner said. “It stays with us, but we can’t let it hinder us or make us afraid, and the various internal controls we have ensure the scandal never repeats itself. But having these controls in place gives the board the flexibility and freedom to focus on innovation and advancement. The key driving force is moving forward.”