Meet West Hempstead’s school board candidates

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Six candidates are running for three open Board of Education seats in West Hempstead School District in the May 21 election. Last week, the Herald sent brief questionnaires to the candidates running, in which their answers have been edited for brevity and clarity. Incumbent Karen Brohm is running for re-election and is being challenged by Zalman Hagler. Brohm, who is the current board president, has been a trustee for the past seven years. She said she was running for re-election because she wanted to continue to promote growth in the school community.
“Passing and mastery rates continue to climb for our special ed. and [English as a New Language] students,” Brohm said. “The high school graduation rate has increased from the mid-80s to low 90s during my tenure.” Brohm added that although the district’s grade restructuring — in which the sixth grade was relocated from West Hempstead Middle School to an intermediate school with grades four through six last year — was met with some concern from parents, she believes that it was an important step towards academic success. Incumbent Byars Cole is running for re-election against challenger Gavi Hoffman. Cole said he chose to run for re-election to continue the initiatives that the board established in the district such as its capital improvement program, and the expansion of programs in STEM, fine arts and media and professional development. “I believe in public education and public service,” Cole said. “My mother was a high school English teacher and elementary school librarian. Quality public schools are a critical measure of the quality of our community and property values.” Cole said that if he is re-elected, the board’s top priority should be geared towards academic improvement. Hoffman, who has been involved in several community groups during his six years as a resident in the district, said that he would like to bring new ideas to the entire school community, if elected. He also feels that there should be more of a concerted effort to bridge the gap between public and private school parents. “With my passion for education and a year of attending meetings, meeting people, sitting down with board members and doing a lot of research on the issues facing our public schools, I think I am the right person to do that,” Hoffman said. Hoffman also said that if elected, he would urge the board to videotape and post school board meetings online while finding different ways to share information with the public in regards to the school budget, along with other issues. Incumbent Patricia Greaves is running for re-election against challenger Abraham Peller. Greaves told the Herald that she is running for re-election because she wants parents to “rediscover West Hempstead’s gem.” “An important issue that I will continue to address is ensuring that our students graduate with the necessary skills that are needed to be successful in the field of their choice, and will have a desire to give back to their community,” Greaves said. If re-elected, Greaves said that she would like to focus on the importance of being involved in the community and having a vested interest in the school district. “When a community’s school district is successful, the entire community benefits,” Greaves said. “Our children deserve the support of all of our community stakeholders.” Calls and emails requesting information on challengers Hagler and Peller were not returned by press time. West Hempstead’s PTA/SEPTA will host a candidates’ forum at West Hempstead Middle School’s cafeteria on Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.