The Long Beach school district on Thursday named its interim superintendent to lead the 3,800-student body after a months long search that drew applicants from as far away as Illinois and Florida, according to the school board president.
At Thursday night’s meeting, the five-member board voted 4-0, with one member absent, to hire Jennifer Gallagher, a veteran educator who had served as the temporary administrator since her predecessor resigned in August to take another job.
“I am just so humbled by the opportunity, and really excited to be part of Long Beach,” Gallagher said in an interview before the vote.
Gallagher, 54, of Freeport, replaces David Weiss, who stepped down to become head of U.S. public schools for the International Baccalaureate Organization, a global educational nonprofit with a U.S. office in Bethesda, Maryland.
Gallagher’s annual salary, she said, is $225,000.
The search for the new superintendent began earlier in the year and attracted more than 30 applicants, said Long Beach School Board President Stewart Mininsky.
Gallagher was one of four front-runners, all from Long Island, who made the cut, and were interviewed by the school board, Mininsky said.
He said Gallagher came to her job interview armed with a plan — laid out in 15 or 20 pages — detailing her vision for the district’s future.
“She stood out far above the other applicants,” Mininsky said.
As part of her five-year plan, Gallagher said she wants to develop programs for students who would like to pursue careers in the fields of automotive, business and culinary arts.
The district is also in the process of hiring an internship coordinator, she said, to help students gain relevant skills and work experience in their chosen fields.
Some members of the board were impressed with Gallagher’s performance, Mininsky said, and urged her to apply.
Gallagher initially declined, she said, because, as a single mother caring for two daughters, ages 12 and 6, she was concerned about the demands on her time.
However, Gallagher said she came to realize that she could manage both being a mom and a superintendent. And, she wants the job.
Before joining the Long Beach school district, Gallagher worked for five years at the Valley Stream Central High School District as director of instructional services. Prior to that, she said she was the principal of a private middle school serving low-income families in the Bronx.