Whether it’s a play, a concert, a game or any other outing, it’s common to spot Lynbrook Board of Education Trustee Alicemarie Bresnihan at school district events. And she is not slowing down as she enters her 44th year as a board member, making her one of the longest-tenured trustees in the state.
“I’ve always enjoyed seeing [students’] achievements and being proud of our students,” Bresnihan said.
In October, she attended Lynbrook’s annual Night of the Pumpkins. In November, she was at the Lynbrook High School students’ performance of “The Sound of Music,” which she called “a delight.” In December, she attended school concerts and boys’ basketball games. Her presence at such events has been a constant during her long service to the district.
Bresnihan moved to Lynbrook with her husband, John, in 1959, and was first elected to the board in 1975. John died in 2017. Alicemarie is now in the middle of a three-year term, which will be up in June 2020.
She has a de-gree in biological science from SUNY Old Westbury and worked as a probation officer for Nassau County for 20 years until her retirement in 2003. She doesn’t di-vulge her age, and joked to Newsday in a recent story that she was “older than you think.”
All nine of Alicemarie and John’s children graduated from Lynbrook High School, and the couple had at least one child enrolled in the district every year from 1960 to 1987. Bresnihan has 21 grandchildren, three of whom now attend school in the district.
When her children were enrolled, she served as an active PTA member. “People encouraged me to run, and I thought it would be a good idea,” she said.
During her time on the board, Bresnihan has served as board president, and has lobbied in Albany and Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Lynbrook district as a member of the school board’s Audit and Policy committees. She has also pressed state lawmakers to reduce the use of standardized tests, which she said the state relies too heavily on.
Honors that she has received include an award from the Lynbrook Council of PTAs; an award for Academic Excellence and College Service from SUNY Old Westbury; the Silver Bullet Award from the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association; Woman and Citizen of the Year from Lynbrook village officials and many others.
Over the years, Bresnihan said, she has seen many changes in the district. She has served under several superintendents who “have always made improvements,” she noted, and she has seen many board members come and go.
Bresnihan has faced a few opponents over the years, but voters have ensured that she has kept her seat and her influence in the district through the years. She has had a hand in selecting many superintendents and has overseen millions of dollars each year in district budgets.
Bresnihan said that budget creation is one of the key annual responsibilities of district officials. “We send a lot of money to the state [in income taxes], and we don’t get a lot in return,” she said, adding that the problem may worsen as the state continues to issue unfunded mandates for the schools.
School board President William Belmont said that Bresnihan’s expertise on budgets and other educational issues has proven to be a valuable resource for other board members. “Her historical perspective gives us insight on where we’ve been and guides us,” he said. “I rely on her to share what she learns with us to keep Lynbrook moving forward.”
Superintendent Melissa Burak praised Bresnihan for her service. “I’m very appreciative of her dedication to students and staff of the district in so many ways,” she said, “and for always being present to show everyone how much she truly does care.”
Belmont said that Bresnihan is involved in many school board associations and regularly attends board conferences, where she learns about issues facing districts across the country. It’s all part of her dedication to Lynbrook, which she said goes beyond attending the monthly meetings.
“There is much more to school board service than looking at what we’re doing in Lynbrook,” she said at a board meeting in November. “You have to look at the big picture, which is public education in this country.”