After a nearly eight-month-long search, the Lynbrook Board of Education announced the appointment of Dr. Melissa Burak to district superintendent last week. The board was scheduled to formally adopt a resolution to appoint Burak at its Wednesday meeting.
Burak has been the interim superintendent since last Sept. 5, after the sudden death of Dr. Santo Barbarino in August. Burak, who is in her 20th year with the district, had served as assistant superintendent for business since 2001.
“I was very much honored, proud and humbled to now be able to serve the district in this new capacity,” Burak said of her reaction when she found out about her appointment. “I was focused on making sure that the district recovered from the tragic loss, [and] that we kept focusing on the kids and the work that we had to do for the students in the school district.”
The board hired a superintendent search firm — School Leadership LLC — last October. Dr. Charles Fowler, the firm’s president, said that 49 people applied for the position, 18 of whom are superintendents in other districts. When School Leadership hosted a public forum and met with several community leaders last fall, many residents said they wanted Burak to get the job. At ensuing board meetings in the winter and spring, other made similar comments.
“To hear nice things being said and people appreciating what you do … it truly touched me,” Burak said. “I felt privileged to be a part of the community, and [that] made me want the position more, to give back to those who have given me so much.”
School board Trustee Bill Belmont said that board conducted a thorough search to ensure that it would hire the most qualified person for the job. “We were looking for the best candidate,” Belmont said. “Not the quickest, not the easiest. We wanted the best. The great thing about the process is that it worked.”
This school year has been anything but normal, Burak said, as she had to lead the district through Hurricane Sandy, a nor’easter and the first year of a new state testing system. “This year was a year of firsts,” she said, “so whether you were an interim superintendent or a veteran superintendent, there were many challenges that we all have had to face for the first time.”