Ratner to run for Great Neck Board of Education

Ratner to run for Great Neck Board of Education

Great Neck resident Josh Ratner said he is running in the special election to replace former Great Neck school board Trustee Monique Bloom because his voice is what is missing from the board.
Ratner,  23, said the board would benefit from having a member who is “recently connected” to the issues facing students.
“Although I’m young, you have to remember I’m one part of the collective board,” he said. “There is 102 years of experience that I will work with and will make sure we do the best for our community moving forward.
“However, I’m the voice that this community needs to bring to that board to round it out and make sure our students’ perspectives and their futures and the needs of their futures are discussed.”
The Board of Education president, Barbara Berkowitz, announced on Sept. 19 that Bloom was resigning from the board due to corporate travel commitments.
Berkowitz said to find a replacement, the district will hold a special election on Dec. 6. The elected trustee will serve to the end of Bloom’s term in May 2019.
Donald Panetta, a 30-year New Hyde Park resident, was the first to announce last month that he would  run for the open seat.
Ratner is a lifelong Great Neck resident who attended Saddle Rock Elementary School, Great Neck South Middle School and Great Neck South High School.
“I was always involved in student government and decision-making processes in the school because I was taught at a young age that it was important to be involved in your community and to make an impact upon the things that affect your day-to-day life,” he said. “And that’s a big reason why I’m running now.”
Ratner said he graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park with a degree in government and politics. He also minored in leadership studies.
As well as serving in the college’s student government and its executive committee, he said, he served as a student representative to the College Park City Council.
Ratner said that his role as student representative to the City Council saw him spending “hundreds of hours” reviewing $500 million in capital projects as well as improving relations between residents in College Park and students at the university.
“Experiences like that prepared me to deal with capital projects like on the bond issue and other issues that are important to this district,” he said. “While I’m young and I bring a lot with my youth, I think the experiences I’ve had prove that I have a record of making responsible decisions on financial issues and policy issues.”
While at college, Ratner said, he got involved with mental health advocacy and helped secure “millions of dollars” in mental health funding for his school and created funding programs that have been replicated across the country.
He said that his interest in mental health stems from his attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety diagnoses in college.
“Having the confidence coming from Great Neck, but then having to learn to deal with my own mental health issues and learning to learn differently and learning to succeed despite that, made me really understand the best things about what Great Neck prepares for in college and also the things that didn’t,” Ratner said.
He said the Great Neck school district does a lot of things right, but he would like to see it improved in the areas of recruiting and retaining the best teachers and technology used in the classroom.
Ratner also said that he would like to see more done in regard to “diversity and inclusion” as  bullying in schools has divided not just groups of students, but parents.
He said the district “owes it” to the students not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it better prepares students for college and employment in diverse workplaces.
While campaigning, Ratner said, he has received “overwhelmingly positive” responses from residents who tell him that they “love the idea” of a young person as a member of the board.
“This is a great opportunity for that message to say this is a time for us to come together, wherever you’re from either north or south, it doesn’t matter, we need to have someone on the board that understands our students and understands the needs of this community,” he said. “Living here for over 20 years, I think I’m that candidate. I know I’m that candidate.”
The election will take place from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the E.M. Baker School and Great Neck South High School.

By Joe Nikic

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