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Monique Bloom Appointed School Board Trustee

Barbara Berkowitz and Donald Ashkenase are sworn in as president and vice president of the board

(Editor’s Note: A full story on new Board of Education Trustee Monique Bloom will appear in a future summer issue of the Great Neck Record.)

As Barbara Berkowitz was once again sworn in as president of the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education, Monique Bloom was appointed as a new school board trustee and was sworn into office at the July 2 board reorganization meeting. Longtime school board member Lawrence Gross was sworn in as vice president, while both Ms. Berkowitz and another longtime board member Donald Ashkenase were sworn in to office for another term on the board. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan was sworn into office once again too.

Following Ms. Bloom’s official installation as a board member, Ms. Berkowitz expressed her delight in welcoming the new member of the board and assured Ms. Bloom that she had “earned this position through your UPTC and PTA leadership roles and your relationship with the board and central administration.” Ms. Bloom currently serves as United Parent-Teacher Council president and has also served as executive vice president, vice president and member at large. She has also served as Great Neck North High School PTSA president, as well as many other parent positions at North High School, North Middle School and the JFK Elementary School. Ms. Berkowitz added, “We all love what we do here … we know that your contributions will be many.”

And Dr. Dolan, who has spent many hours working with Ms. Bloom as she served on numerous school-related positions, noted: “We are welcoming a friend.”

Ms. Bloom said that she was “so happy to be here.” She told the other school board members that “It’s an absolute honor to work with you … I love the school district.” Monique Bloom promised to work hard for the district, adding: “It will be a great joy to be a parent leader in this district.” Monique Bloom replaces school board trustee Fran Langsner who recently resigned from the board when she moved out of the school district.

Barbara Berkowitz was sworn in for her seventh year as board president, having joined the board 20 years ago, in 1992. Following her re-election to the board in May, she was also sworn in for this new term on the board. Prior to becoming board president, she also served as vice president for three years. Praising Ms. Berkowitz in her leadership role as board president, Dr. Dolan said, “You are the force that holds us together, who pushes us forward.” Mr. Ashkenase said that it is Ms. Berkowitz who assures that there are “five equal members on the board,” and he praised her strong leadership. Mr. Ashkenase added: “All are invited to say what they want to reach consensus. This would not be possible without your leadership.” Mr. Gross explained how, through the dinner meetings Ms. Berkowitz initiated with school administrators, UPTC, GNTA and other key school leaders, “you have genuinely involved all components of the district.”

Responding, Ms. Berkowitz said that she is proud to work with the district’s exemplary team of administrators, teachers and staff and most especially with this board, which has “no personal agendas, no egos,” and displays great “mutual respect.”

As Lawrence Gross was sworn in as vice president, Ms. Berkowitz praised her colleague: “Larry has an even-tempered style. He treats all with courtesy, kindness, and respect.” She added that Mr. Gross has served as president several times, “during difficult and diverse issues,” and has emerged as “a great role model.” Mr. Ashkenase added that the school district is “fortunate to have Larry Gross in a leadership position on the board.” He spoke of how Larry Gross first showed his leadership strengths well over 30 years ago, as he lead the STOP movement when the then-school board trustees wanted to close schools. “We are grateful for your commitment,” Mr. Ashkenase said to his longtime colleague, as he explained that Larry Gross “transformed public education in Great Neck” during the STOP movement. Mr. Gross came on the board in 1981, 31 years ago, and over the years has served as president and vice president.  

Mr. Gross, speaking about once again assuming the role of vice president, said, “It is an honor to serve with the board and under Barbara’s leadership.” He continued stating: “I couldn’t have served for 30 years if not for a wonderful board. I am pleased to be a member of the Board of Education, supported by a community that has a strong commitment to education.” And speaking of his love for the district, Mr. Gross emphasized that “Great Neck is a very special place … a lighthouse for New York State on how to treat children’s education … we all do our best for the children.”

Having won re-election as a school board trustee in May, Donald Ashkenase was sworn in for his 30th year on the board, having joined the board in 1982. He, too, has served as board president and vice president. “Don has an amazing mind,” Ms. Berkowitz said. “He gets us all thinking … he keeps us on our toes … and he has compassion and a huge heart.” Ms. Berkowitz added that Mr. Ashkenase “always will do what is in the best interest of the board and the community.” Mr. Gross said that he and Mr. Ashkenase “came together” over the school consolidation issue many years ago. “He continues to be of great value to us,” Mr. Gross said of his colleague.

In addition, Dr. Dolan was sworn in as superintendent of schools for the third year. Ms. Berkowitz spoke of how Dr. Dolan “continues to fight unjust demands” placed on school districts and how he guides the district in maintaining “fiscal stability.” Mr. Ashkenase spoke of how the board is “deeply grateful” to have this superintendent, and Mr. Gross spoke of the “great team” that Dr. Dolan has established in the school district.” Dr. Dolan simply replied: “This is a wonderful place to be.”

Also sworn in at the Board meeting were Diana O’Connell as district clerk, and Carol Blach as district treasurer.