Richard Loeschner, the longtime Brentwood High School principal and administrator who has been named the district’s new superintendent, said Friday that he hopes to build on what he considers the successes and strengths of Long Island’s largest school system.
“We are trying to make it a place where kids are welcomed from all over — not just the country, but the world — and we are proud of that,” Loeschner said in an interview. “And we are turning out great citizens and kids who are wonderful people and academically prepared for the next level.”
He was appointed superintendent, effective July 1, at Thursday night’s school board meeting, with five members of the panel voting yes and two abstaining. Terms of the three-year contract were not available Friday.
Superintendent Levi McIntyre said last month he was stepping down as schools chief as of June 30, a year before the expiration of his three-year contract. He and the school board reached an “amicable separation,” board president Elizabeth Mercado said at the time.
The sprawling district, with nearly 20,000 students, is one of the largest suburban systems in the state, with a current budget of nearly $382 million. The high school is divided into the linked Ross Center and Sonderling Center, for grades 10-12, and there is a Freshman Center, four middle schools, 10 elementary schools and a kindergarten center.
McIntyre has led the district at a time when Brentwood and neighboring Central Islip have been rocked by violence and slayings that law enforcement authorities have attributed to the MS-13 street gang. The death toll in the past year has risen to 11, including Brentwood High students Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, in September.
Loeschner, principal of the Ross Center, has worked in the district for 17 years. The overall enrollment for grades 9-12 is about 4,500, according to the most recent state data available.
“There are many challenges facing not just Brentwood, but every school district,” he said. “Obviously, the first challenge is to be able to maneuver successfully through all the requirements thrown at us by New York state.”
Students’ safety “has always been utmost in our minds,” he said.
Mercado said Thursday night that Loeschner’s “commitments to Brentwood and its students throughout his 17-year tenure has been exemplary and indicative of his leadership.”
In 2016, he took statewide “Principal of the Year” honors at the high school level from the School Administrators Association of New York State. The annual award is given to an administrator who has “set the pace, character and quality of education for the students in his or her school.”
He started in Brentwood as the math department chairperson and served in several administrative roles, including principal of South Middle School, before becoming high school principal.
“I know the Brentwood student, and I know what they need — both academically and community-wise,” he said. “It is an extraordinary place. I just love the kids and the community.”