Jeffrey Shi and Rebecca Sassouni won seats on the Great Neck Public Schools’ Board of Education on Tuesday, ending what many viewed as an intense and sometimes polarizing race.
Shi defeated Nikolas Kron, 6,055 to 1,908, while Sassouni won 6,884 votes in an uncontested race after Ilya Aronovich dropped out.
Shi and Sassouni join the board at a time when many residents have pointed to a thread of distrust throughout the community. Both said that their priorities are to maintain the schools’ high rankings, be fiscally responsible and improve transparency and communication with Great Neck’s various groups.
Pursuant to that goal, Shi proposed forming an infrastructure commission “willing to ask tough questions.”
“We’re going to have an infrastructure committee to have the best minds in our community who are the developers, who are the engineers and architects to probably review the budget items, bond items, item by item, to find out where money could be saved,” Shi said, “or just that maybe there is no money to be saved and we’re actually on the right track.”
“So that’s one of the key things, because there is a mistrust developed over the time,” Shi added.
Shi, a technology consultant who first moved to Great Neck in 2013 for its public schools, is the first Asian-American to join the Board of Education. Shi, however, said he aims to represent the entire community’s interests.
“I’m for all people,” Shi said. “I’m for Jewish people, I’m for Chinese people, I’m for Asian people, because this public school is for all people, so I could care less [that I’m the first Asian-American on the board] because I’m just a working parent at the end of the day and just want to make sure my kid and all the kids in my community receive the right amount of education and prepare them to be very successful.”
More than a third of students in the Great Neck Public Schools are of Asian descent.
Shi brings with him over 20 years of experience in the financial, health-care and technology industries. He works for New York City, managing information technology infrastructure and analyzing data.
Sassouni serves as one of three parent members on the Board of the Education’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee, an officer of the United Parent Teacher Council and as the Chairperson of the UPTC Legislative Committee.
Sassouni also served on a selection committee, two nominating committees, co-chaired the JFK High School Shared Decision Making Committee and a PTO board member at JFK, North Middle and North High Schools.
Outside of the schools, Sassouni is an officer of the Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc. and has been an officer and board member of Temple Israel of Great Neck for more than a decade. She also served as a board member of the Schechter Schools of Long Island.
Sassouni is an attorney specializing in special education school cases. She belongs to the Nassau County Bar Association’s Education Law Committee.
“My duty as a member of your Board of Education will be to be a careful steward, to bear the awesome fiduciary responsibility to ensure that we continue to observe best practices for cost efficiencies and curricular and programmatic innovation which will befit our continued AAA bond rating and our unparalleled reputation for education here in Great Neck,” Sassouni said.
Nikolas Kron said that despite a defeat, he intends to stay involved, much like he did after his loss to Donna Peirez in a special election in December. In that time Kron went to board meetings, emailed trustees and let them know what he was hearing on the ground.
“I will offer my expertise and advice to the board to the degree that they wish to hear what I have to say, and to the degree that I can be helpful,” Kron said.