Great Neck resident Grant Toch spoke about the importance of fiscal responsibility for the Great Neck school district ahead of his uncontested election for a position on the Board of Education.
Toch, a financial analyst and tax lawyer, first ran for a spot on the school board in 2017, ultimately dropping out of the race. Trustee Jeffrey Shi was then elected in a contest 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.
He has also served as a chairperson and member of the district’s United Parent-Teacher Council’s Budget Committee since 2008.
Toch acknowledged and thanked the late Trustee Don Ashkenase, who chaired the board’s Financial Advisory Committee, for his time serving the community and spoke about how vital the crafting of the district’s budget and general finances is for all community stakeholders.
“I think it’s a unique combination of my experience and expertise with the opportunity that really presented itself when Don [Ashkenase] unfortunately passed away,” Toch said. “I think it’s safe to say I have a vested interest in making sure that the school district is able to provide the maximum resources for students and teachers to make sure we get the best outcomes for our children, all while making sure we do it in a fiscally responsible manner.”
Toch lauded the work done by John Powell, assistant superintendent of business and finance, in keeping the general fund balance reserves around $60 million and withstanding potential program cuts. Toch said if he is elected he will strive to maintain a continuous balance of revenues and expenditures along with keeping the tax levy at a reasonable amount.
In terms of changes for what Toch could bring to budgeting, he spoke about the need for some more transparency and clarification about the details of the budget for members of the community, while acknowledging Powell’s work.
“I think one of the things I’d like to do is help alleviate concerns by not only making all the budget documents available in a readily accessible format, but I think in a presentation format that will be easy to see,” Toch said.
When asked what he would change specifically about the board and how his view of the board has been over the past few years, Toch admitted that it is difficult to make those types of judgment calls since he hasn’t gotten on the inside yet.
“Without having ever been part of it, I think it would be hard for me to say what exactly I would change about the Board of Education,” Toch said.
He did note the idea of term limits has been floated in the community and said that is something he would certainly want to look into and explore more, if he was elected. Toch also said he would want to speak with everyone from the superintendent to the janitorial staff to gauge their experience at the school district and get a better pulse from the people experiencing it first hand.
“I’m just going to try to be as eager as I can,” Toch said. “I think one of the things I bring up, like anyone who’s worked with me, knows I am a voracious reader and I have pretty large intellectual curiosity. So, I think those attributes will help me come in handy as I make that journey.”
The vote on two trustee seats on the Board of Education and the proposed $252 million budget for the 2021-22 school year will occur on Tuesday.