Ilya Aronovich is the third candidate to withdraw from the Great Neck Public Schools (GNPS) Board of Education (BOE) May 16 election for trustee.
Aronovich announced that he was dropping out of the race in a prepared statement at the Great Neck school board candidates forum sponsored by the Allenwood Park Civic Association on Tuesday, May 9, at 8:30 p.m. at Great Neck House, and officially withdrew his candidacy on Wednesday, May 10.
“Aronovich’s decision follows the allowable time, according to New York State Education Law, for filing additional nominating petitions,” reported GNPS in a statement. “Therefore, Mr. Aronovich’s withdrawal does not precipitate the reopening of the nominating-petition period. His name will not appear on the ballot, as ballots had not yet gone to print prior to his decision.”
Public-school supporters have expressed concern over Aronovich’s interests since his four children attend private school and he sits on the board of their private school, Silverstein Hebrew Academy. The upcoming election has divided the community between pro-public school and pro-private school parents. In his speech, Aronovich stressed the importance of unity in the community.
“Over the course of the trustee races and the bond vote, our community has become very fractured,” explained Aronovich. “In the vibrancy of political campaigns for and against candidates, for and against the bond, there has been lots of antagonism against individuals, organizations and groups in the community. While we want vibrant political debate—and I’m from communist Russia, so I should know—in a friendly and neighborly community such as ours, there is no room for the kind of vitriol and maligned innuendo that we’ve been experiencing, whether in private settings, on social and other media, on flyers or in door-to-door canvassing.”
Six candidates originally filed for the two open BOE seats. Aronovich and Rebecca Sassouni were running for Susan Healy’s seat, and Michael Golden, Nikolas Kron, Jeffrey Shi and Grant Toch were running for Larry Gross’s seat.
Golden withdrew on Thursday, April 27, and Toch withdrew on Friday, April 28.
“We are neighbors, we are friends, we are Great Neck,” Aronovich continued. “No change on the board is worth the ill will and vitriol being slung. Since I began this campaign, I have always said that I look to bridge the gaps in our community. Consistent with this objective—and the objective of healing our community—I am hereby announcing that I am stepping out of the race for trustee. To the extent that that will diminish poisonous rancor in the community, it is a most worthwhile goal, much more important to me that any position. With me bowing out, Rebecca Sassouni has an uncontested seat on the board. I have more that’s in common with Rebecca than our differences. I therefore know Rebecca will advocate for all the children in her charge, equally and with verve. We should give her our broad community support and wish her Godspeed.”
The community was touched by his speech.
“Mr. Aronovich may have come into the GNPS’s BOE trustee race an unknown, but in a very short time he was feared, cheered, loathed and loved. Now, all that will be remembered will be a great speech on unity and the value of community,” said Sarah Moss, GNPS United Parent-Teacher Council copresident. “Thank you Mr. Aronovich, may your sacrifice begin the needed healing, so our community can move away from divisive rhetoric and concentrate on a vote that is about keeping our structural integrity sound. Our public school system is our foundation as a community, if you believe and value this, then you must vote Yes.”
Sassouni, who is now running uncontested said, “I commend Mr. Aronovich for making the right decision for himself and the community. That said, I urge all registered voters to go to the polls to support my candidacy for Board of Education, as well as to vote on the other contested board seat and in the Bond Referendum and Budget vote. Tuesday May 16, 2017, remains a day for Great Neckers to define our commitment to our children’s educations, our schools and our home.”
Voting on the Proposed 2017–18 School Budget, the Revised 2017 Bond Referendum and Board of Education trustees will take place on Tuesday, May 16, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Baker School for registered voters who live north of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and at South High School for those who live south of the LIRR. For voter registration and absentee ballot information, call the office of the district clerk at 516-441-4020.