Tags Posts tagged with "School Board Candidates"

School Board Candidates

Ward Melville High School. File photo by Greg Catalano

By Mallie Jane Kim

Four candidates are vying to serve on next year’s school board in Three Village Central School District. Terms are up for incumbents Shaorui Li and Susan Rosenzweig, who are both running to stay on the board. Newcomers Stanley Bak and Amitava Das have also thrown their hats in the ring.

In addition to the two full terms up for grabs, a third partial-term seat was left open by former board member Jennifer Solomon, after she resigned last summer for personal reasons. At the time, the board opted to wait until this election to fill her seat for the term’s final year, rather than spending additional money on a special election last fall. 

Whoever earns the third highest number of votes will fill this one-year term.

The candidates, profiled below in alphabetical order, opened the two-week campaign season by introducing themselves at a May 6 Three Village Civic Association meeting.

Stanley Bak

Stanley Bak

Bak teaches computer science at Stony Brook University and runs a research lab investigating the safety of artificial intelligence, which he said involves budgeting and managing millions of dollars in funds. 

He suggested the main issue facing the district today is financial.

“We need a long-term financial plan,” he said. “One that acknowledges that taxpayers exist and one that can sustainably provide excellent programs and services for our students.”

Bak, who was a member of the district’s cellphone committee last fall, praised the district’s recently strengthened policy, but added that its success hinges on enforcement.

He also pointed out that, though elementary schools comprise more than half the grade levels in the district, the board does not currently have representation from elementary families. His oldest child has started elementary school, with two others following.

“As a parent with three young children, I have a vested interest in the long-term health of all of our schools,” he said. “Representation matters. I will help bring this perspective to our board.”

Bak published information on his priorities at the website bakforboard.com and emphasizes that he is running independently and will not accept any funding from outside groups. He has received public support from the Residents for Responsible Spending Facebook group, and is a participant in the Three Village Parents Alliance.

Amitava Das

Amitava Das

Das, a parent of a junior high student in the district, said his experience in technology management has given him a firm foundation in communication, collaboration and compromise toward a shared goal of serving clients while being fiscally responsible. 

“These are things from a business perspective that I hope I’m able to bring to this role,” said Das, who is an engineering manager at a major global technology firm. He indicated he hopes to “work with the staff, the teachers, the taxpayers, the parents — I hope to gain your input and your support and understand what your needs are.” 

Das served on this year’s Budget Advisory Committee and volunteers as a computer science teacher for sixth through ninth grades with SchoolNova. He said by email that he previously served on the technical advisory board for Per Scholas, an organization that trains a diverse workforce in technology and helps connect newly-skilled talent to businesses.

He recognized the “tireless effort” of the teachers, administration and staff, but added that he’s also a taxpayer. “There’s a need to balance that aspect of it,” he said. “Are the dollars going toward the right programs, being spent in the right way to deliver the best product for our shareholders — which is us, the taxpayers in the district?”

Das, along with Li and Rosenzweig, is endorsed by the Three Village Teachers Association. He said in a phone call that he hopes to reimburse his portion of any campaign costs — typically, TVTA pays for advertising, including lawn signs and a postcard to each union member, past and present.

TVTA president Brian Pickford confirmed to TBR that this option is open to any candidate.

Shaorui Li

Shaorui Li

Li, also a district parent, has served on the school board since her election in 2021. She is an electrical engineer with 17 years of experience, including at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and is currently heading a microchip-development startup to advance the field of quantum computing. 

She shared that she has given lectures in the elementary schools regarding NASA projects she was involved in, and has served as a mentor for Science Olympiad.

These STEM skills, she indicated, along with the leadership and management experience she’s gained throughout her career, are what she brings to the table. “I just want to contribute my analytical skills and my love of solving problems and engineering to the board,” she said.

Li praised the board’s efforts in gaining input from all stakeholders for the new cellphone policy as well as in fine tuning the Budget Advisory Committee based on feedback. “The intention is to have input from the community,” she said. “We actually keep changing how [the BAC] will be and probably going forward it will keep changing — the goal is to make it more effective.”

Li invited residents to reach out with questions about district policy to her or any board member, as she said she values understanding community concerns. “The role of the board member is not simply voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ based on personal preference,” she said. “As a board member, I would actively research … listen to our community and make decisions based on inputs from a broad range of resources.”

Susan Rosenzweig

Susan Rosenzweig

Rosenzweig, the current board president, was also elected in 2021. She said her background in radio and television news have served her well as a leader on the board. She pointed to her ability to approach situations with a neutral position — focusing on facts and data in decision making — as well as her ability to communicate thoughtfully and clearly. 

“I believe these qualities have helped usher in a new era of openness with our community,” she said, adding the board has “a renewed rigor in thoroughly analyzing all of our decisions for their impacts not only on our staff and our students, but on the district’s fiscal health and our overall well-being.”

Rosenzweig has made a full-time job of volunteer opportunities related to her children’s education, including on the board of trustees at Play Groups preschool and as PTA president at all levels. She has also been a leader for Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.

She called the district’s new cellphone policy “a good start,” but indicated the whole community needs to chip in to help kids — especially since students involved in advising the new policy recognized the distraction and pressure that comes with the current cellphone culture. “We’ve only got them for seven hours a day,” Rosenzweig said. “The rest of the 17 hours, we need help.”

Voting details 

Voting will take place on May 21 at Ward Melville High School between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Early voting is also available this year, and information can be found on the district’s website on the Budget Information page under the Board of Education menu. A PTA-sponsored Meet the Candidates event at the high school is scheduled for May 9, at 7 p.m., and will be livestreamed.

Link to view Meet the Candidates event: https://www.youtube.com/live/o1Tos3A4wSQ?si=nmflK9MHH57onXJs.