A Great Neck resident has thrown his name into the ring seeking to fill a seat on the Great Neck Board of Education left vacant by longtime Trustee Donald Ashkenase.
Grant Toch, a financial analyst and tax lawyer, first ran for a spot on the school board in 2017, ultimately dropping out of the race and allowing current Trustee Jeffrey Shi to be elected against Nikolas Kron.
Toch and his wife Nicole have spent the past 15 years in Great Neck, with their three daughters. Toch has volunteered on the United Parent-Teacher Council for the past 13 years, along with serving as an alternate on the Great Neck Estates Zoning Board of Appeals and being a board member for Temple Beth-El.
Toch touted the importance of prioritizing programs and course offerings for students throughout the school district along with fiduciary responsibility ahead of the May 11 election.
“Our school system plays a critical role within our community, and the value it provides to our students and residents could not be overstated,” Toch said in a letter to Blank Slate Media. “As a community, we need to continuously enhance our public school’s offerings, reputation and stature.”
Toch serves on the budget and financial committees for the United Parent-Teacher Council and Temple Beth-El, respectively. He also stressed the importance for teachers and students both having the resources necessary to the long-term success of the school district.
“I believe that I represent what Great Neck needs most on the Board of Education,” he said. “As an active parent in this community, I am committed to the long term success of the Great Neck Public School District.”
Toch is running for the seat previously held by longtime Trustee Donald Ashkenase, who died earlier this month at 77 years old. Ashkenase’s 39-year tenure as trustee was the longest in the school district’s history. He also chaired the board’s Financial Advisory Committee.
Since 1894 there have been 86 trustees, with two serving nonconsecutive terms. Including the current Board of Education, the average time served has been just more than seven years.
Of those 86 trustees, only 20 have served 10 years or more and only four have served 20 or more years: John A. Laressy from 1916 to 1940, Barbara Berkowitz from 1992 to present, Lawrence Gross from 1981 to 2017, and Ashkenase from 1982 to 2021.
The vote on the Board of Education trustee position and budget will take place on May 11, rather than May 18, due to a conflict with the final day of the Jewish holiday Shavuot, which is celebrated seven weeks after the second Passover seder.
State law requires school districts to hold their elections on the third Tuesday in May but due to the conflict, the board asked for the date to be changed to May 11. The state approved the request two weeks ago.