The South Huntington school board has hired a new superintendent. David P. Bennardo, principal of Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, will take over the district on July 1.

School officials praised Thomas Shea, who is retiring after serving as superintendent since 2003.

"We are looking forward to moving on and keeping our vision," school board president Jim Kaden said. "[Bennardo] seems to be in sync with what the board was looking for so we'll be a good fit."

Kaden refused to divulge Bennardo's salary.

Bennardo said he is honored to join the district.

"I have been so impressed with the district's collective spirit, from the board of education, the parents, the administrators, the teachers and the community members," he said. "There is a real collective spirit, a real shared vision and I look forward to being a part of that."

Kaden said the district has done a good job of maintaining academic programs amid dwindling resources and the pressure to meet unfunded state mandates.

"Dave Bennardo has the energy and the wherewithal to keep that going," Kaden said. "You need to constantly look for innovative ways to deliver the same types of programs in different ways that cost less, and he has some ideas for that."

Bennardo, who will oversee seven schools with about 6,000 students, said, "It's such a warm place, a district rich in culture and rich in diversity. I just can't wait."

Bennardo, a Greenlawn resident, has been a public school educator for 24 years, serving as a teacher, coach, adviser, department chairman, assistant principal and, for the past nine years, principal of Harborfields.

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