By Jennifer Corr
The vote for the Jericho Union Free School District 2023-2024 budget as well as the vote for the Board of Education candidates will be held Tuesday, May 16, 2023 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Sam Springer gym at the Jericho Middle School/High School complex. The candidates are John Sarraf and incumbents Jill Citron and Divya Balachandar.
The following is background information about the candidates, as well as a summary of what their main goals will be throughout their term.
Sarraf has lived in the Jericho district for over 16 years and is on the board of the charity Love Together Brazil. He is also involved with other non-profits. As a first-generation American, Sarraf believes that education is the key to unlocking a bright future for the children. He is a parent of two daughters in Jericho schools, a seventh and eighth grader. Sarraf said his skill set as an experienced CEO of a large corporation for over 25 years prepares him for the role as a Jericho Board member.
“I bring real-life experience in financial oversight, budgeting, negotiating, decision-making and management,” Sarraf said.
Sarraf said the main issues he’ll focus on as a board member is to promote excellence in teaching and learning with a focus on critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation; ensure every student has access to the resources and support they need for success; provide a safe and supportive learning environment for all students; advocate for increasing funding for teachers so that the district can attract and retain the best teachers; improve communication and transparency with the parents and the community; build strong partnerships with the overall community and fix the trust that’s been broken between the board and the broader community.
Incumbent Citron has served on the Jericho Union Free School District Board of Education for six years and is currently serving as president. She loves to attend Jericho sporting events, theater productions, musical performances and other district events, even though her kids no longer attend the schools. But she sees Jericho students as her own kids. Citron is an attorney who specializes in estate planning and corporate law. She spends a great deal of time doing volunteer work, including as a member of UJA Federation of New York’s Long Island Women’s Cabinet and the University of Pennsylvania Secondary School Committee. Citron shares her goals with fellow candidate Divya Balachandar: aspire to return to mutual respect, civility and understanding to the district and board meetings; continue to focus on the fiscal health of the district in order to continue and expand the outside programming the district offers while maintaining a fiscally responsible tax levy; continue to prioritize the safety of students, teachers and staff and their physical and mental health and to make sure the district is cyber-secure.
Incumbent Balachandar has been invested in the community since she moved to East Birchwood in 2014. She is a proud parent of an eighth and a sixth grader, and her involvement with Jericho schools started with serving as a kindergarten class captain. Her involvement evolved to chairing multiple committees. When not spending time in school and in the community, Divya is a full-time pediatric pulmonologist, treating children of all ages with pulmonary diseases. Through her work, she functions as an advocate for the health and well-being of all children. Her expertise has assisted Jericho parents when she led several sessions on vaping. She is currently serving as the chair for the Committee on School Health for the Nassau County Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is an active volunteer with Jericho Cares.
There will be a public budget hearing and a chance to meet the candidates on May 9 in the high school Little Theater from 7 to 8:30 p.m.