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Abraham Peller and Zalman Hagler want to add diversity to the West Hempstead School Board. As successful members of the community, they are advocating for the best interests of both the public- and private-school students.

Abe and Sara Peller

For the past three decades, Abe Peller has been a resident of the West Hempstead community. Professionally, he spends his time serving as a practicing physician at a local university medical center. He is committed to serving as a resource to all who ask at any time, day or night. He is a proud father of four children who were all raised in this warm, supportive, and friendly community we call home. He has served on the board of directors at various schools for over 15 years and helped lead a building campaign.

Peller notes, “I have been thinking about how I can serve this community outside of my current capacities for quite some time, and will work tirelessly to provide educational excellence for all students in the district. Although I am a graduate of the private-school system, I am keenly aware of the value of a public-school education being an excellent quality option available to all. I am the right choice to make a difference for our district.”

His proposals for educational excellence include speaking with parents and teachers about the restructuring and making changes where needed; working with teachers, administration, and parents to increase academic performance and participation; and brainstorming community volunteer programs to help students increase academic performance and participation. He wants to ensure continuity in special education/pupil personnel services as there has been yearly turnover.

Zalman and Amy Hagler

Zalman Hagler is also a proud resident of the community for the past 23 years. A proud product of New York State public school systems, he has firsthand experience of the strong impact a well-managed community public-school system can have on students, their families, and the community at large.

As a proud father of four, Hagler has raised his family in West Hempstead, and watched with pride and deep appreciation as they were supported by the community and resources made available to them.

Over the past 20 years, Hagler served in leadership positions with the West Hempstead Little League, as well as a variety of community causes, and has deeply enjoyed interactions with the district’s families and students.

Hagler explains, “As a parent first, community leader second, and grandparent third, I am acutely aware that our schools and community face challenges ahead and I am confident I can make a meaningful contribution towards shaping the future of our district, and, more importantly, the students, families, and neighbors we are empowered to care for.”

Hagler’s recommendations include bringing back a ninth period to the middle- and high-school programs (already achieved through discussions in different channels), instituting a communitywide mentor program with local businesses (three businesses already in discussions) and community members (two community members offered to help coordinate); simplifying the process so all students of the district can receive the appropriate services; and raising community awareness, involvement, and access by implementing various methods to communicate school board activities, initiatives, meetings, volunteer opportunities, etc., such as email, Facebook, WeChat, Line, and others.

Peller and Hagler explain that “public schools are run by the public. The voting public votes on, and essentially hires, their board of education. A board of education, some districts call it a school committee, is a group of three to seven elected officials who assume a leadership role in overseeing the academic, legal, and financial health of a school district. They are the bosses’ bosses representing the public interest and, to this extent, they should serve the diverse values and needs of their community.

They delineate five key functions of a good school board: sets a vision, advances policy, demonstrates accountability, plays a leadership role in the community, and forges consensus.

School boards are also tasked with other duties, that even if seemingly mundane, might greatly affect you and your child’s everyday life, like deciding on the school calendar, choosing school bus times and routes, adopting new curricula, and deciding on individual construction projects.

Whether you are satisfied with your school board or not, your vote in the next school board election can be instrumental in helping to shape the upcoming board so that it answers the needs of its parents, students, and staff. Is the district meeting the needs for busing and services for all the students in the district? As the board sets the budget which in effect represents 60 percent of your tax bill, are they managing the budget responsibly?”

Hagler concludes, “Some of the most involved parents pay little to no attention to school board elections. But there are many good reasons to care. Those few people who sit on your local school board are the oft-unseen decision-makers in your child’s schooling but make many decisions that affect your child’s schooling and the entire community. If voting for a school board candidate still doesn’t sound like such a big deal, try this statistic on for size: Only 10 percent of the voting population shows up to cast a ballot in their local school board elections. While it’s unfortunate that more people don’t take part in selecting the board members who control the district’s policies and budgets, there is an upside. Your single vote counts for more than in almost any other election because there is such a low turnout. And when it comes to your district’s school board, the power of being an informed parent counts for a lot as well.”

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