When a multimillion-dollar financial scandal rocked the Roslyn school district in 2004, Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy, then a parent of two local students, said she faced a choice.
“Could I have packed up and moved? Sure,” she said.
Instead of running away, Ben-Levy ran for a seat on the Roslyn Board of Education in 2005.
“We needed to clean up the mess that was made,” she said. “We needed school board members that could help marshal the district into a new day.”
Twelve years and four terms later, Ben-Levy is running for re-election as president of the Roslyn School District. Her candidacy, along with that of Vice President Clifford Saffron, is unopposed.
Voting will take place on May 16 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Roslyn High School.
“We have unfinished work and I made a promise to the community and a pledge to myself that I would do all I could as a volunteer to put Roslyn in a healthy educational and physical posture,” Ben-Levy said. “I made that promise many years ago and I want to see it through.”
Ben-Levy moved to Roslyn in 1998, and later enrolled her son and daughter in Roslyn public schools.
In 2004, when Dr. Frank A. Tassone, then Roslyn’s school superintendent, was charged with stealing millions from the district, Ben-Levy said the schools descended into what felt like a bad dream.
“It was a nightmare,” she said.
Since then, the district has made strides in technology, infrastructure and curriculum offerings, Ben-Levy said.
“When I first started it was copper coil power phones that didn’t ring very well,” Ben-Levy said. “You couldn’t communicate from one side of the building to another.”
Among the additions to the curriculum, Ben-Levy cites advanced placement courses in the high school as well as STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, offerings throughout the district.
Asked what she hopes to accomplish if she is re-elected, Ben-Levy said, “Clearly the capital plan,” referring to a $41.3 million infrastructure improvement effort that won voter approval in 2014.
“That’s unfinished business that we need to see through,” she added. “It’s very important we take good care of facilities and buildings and grounds so they never fall into the kind of disrepair we found them in when I started board service years ago.”
Ben-Levy said post-graduation opportunities for special needs students was an area the district could improve.
“A class of kids graduates at 18 and are required to pursue educational opportunities until age 21,” she said. “We need to provide meaningful opportunities to that population. Life skills or perhaps some college ready opportunity.”
“I could talk about this endlessly,” Ben-Levy added. “My love and passion for our schools is boundless.”