Great Neck Board of Education President Rebecca Sassouni said she is optimistic about the future of the school district and spoke about her desire to continue to serve the public during an interview with Blank Slate Media.
Sassouni, who was first elected to the board in 2017, announced she will be running for re-election as a trustee. The Board of Education elects a trustee to the post of president each year. Being re-elected to the board, she said, would give her a continued opportunity to serve the school district that her own children have attended.
“I have abiding love and gratitude to this community and also to this school district,” Sassouni told Blank Slate Media Monday. “And I’m very appreciative that my family enjoys the pluralism here.”
More pressing matters, she said, include drafting a budget for the 2023-24 school year and replacing outgoing district Superintendent Teresa Prendergast.
“I am very eager to work with my colleagues, very eager to see through the superintendent search and to see through the work of the advisory committee and the implementation of our board goals,” she said.
Sassouni, in a letter to the community announcing her plan to run for re-election, touched upon the diversity that Great Neck has to offer. When asked if she believes there is a sense of divisiveness, Sassouni said she tries to remain “as judicious as possible” and promote the education of students rather than combatting certain notions.
“I try to remain fair, give people a chance to be heard and feel respected,” Sassouni said. “It’s actually very exciting to behold and really very beautiful when you look at it and see all the diversity we have here.”
No opponent has emerged to challenge her so far.
Sassouni said she was pleased with some of the practices adopted by the board since she took over as president in 2021. These include the live-streaming of board meetings to make them more easily accessible. The board’s decision-making and collaborative work, she said, is something she lauded during the interview.
“I think that our decision-making has become much more deliberative and more process-oriented, which I’m very proud of,” Sassouni said. “We are working together very collaboratively and very collegially in executive session and in public.”
Taking over the reins as board president after the first year of the coronavirus, she said, it was tough to anticipate what leading the group of trustees would entail. After helping to navigate the school district through the pandemic, Sassouni said that providing the gold-standard education to Great Neck’s children will continue to be paramount for her if re-elected in May.
“I am committed to making sure that every child who’s enrolled in our schools has the same quality experiential experience as my children had,” Sassouni said.
Sassouni has served as parent co-chair for the Shared Decision Making Committee at Great Neck North High School and John F. Kennedy School, a past officer for the United Parent Teacher Council and chair of its legislative committee. She is a past president of the Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc.
She most recently defeated challenger John Jahng in 2020 in a delayed June 9 election due to the coronavirus pandemic.