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GNPS Installs New Schools’ Superintendent

Dr. Tom Dolan Takes the Reins

The Great Neck Public Schools now officially have a new superintendent of schools, Thomas Dolan. Dr. Dolan was sworn in at the July 1, board of education organizational meeting for the upcoming 2009-2010 school year. Dr. Dolan thanked the school board for putting their trust in him.

Having spent considerable time in the school district since his appointment several months ago, Dr. Dolan said that this has been “a wonderful experience” and he very much looks forward to learning even more about the Great Neck School District. “This has been a wonderful experience so far,” Dr. Dolan said, adding his thanks to all who have helped him so far. He offered a special thank you to retiring superintendent, Ronald Friedman.

Board of Education Vice President Fran Langsner, presiding in place of Board President Barbara Berkowitz (who was ill, but recuperating), also thanked Dr. Friedman for his “excellent leadership” and noted how the district’s outgoing superintendents were instrumental in finding their successors. Ms. Langsner then addressed Dr. Dolan and said how much the school board and the school district are “looking forward to your leadership, looking forward to the future.”

Board Trustee Lawrence Gross noted that the first interview with Dr. Dolan found the board “exceptionally impressed” and that they now welcome Dr. Dolan “with open arms and expectation.”

As for Dr. Friedman, as he retires he spoke of his successor: “Tom will pick it up and carry on.”

Also at this meeting long-time trustee Donald Ashkenase was sworn in for another term. Ms. Langsner stated how fortunate the school district, the board and the community is to have had Mr. Ashkenase for 27 years so far. She noted his “financial acumen” as well as his “knowledge and respect … and his clear thinking.” She also spoke of how fairly he deals with each issue and his “sensitivity to everybody’s needs.” Trustee Susan Miner-Healy called Mr. Ashkenase “one of the most fair, kindest, and hard-working” board members. Another long-term trustee, Lawrence Gross, who tops Mr. Ashkenase by a year, addressed his colleague’s “feeling for people,” as well as his intelligence and the “even-handed way” he handles each issue.

Ms. Langsner was then elected and sworn in for another term as vice-president. Mr. Gross stressed the “wonderful job” Ms. Lansgner has done all along and especially now, as she steps in for the board president. “She has done what the president has to do,” said, telling Ms. Lansgner, “You know how to do everything; we are so very fortunate.”

Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz, who is recovering from an illness, will be sworn in by July 15, as dictated by law. Ms. Berkowitz will be sworn in to another term as a trustee and will also be sworn in for another year as board president, as she was once again elected (by the board) to that post. And although Mr. Gross expressed the wish to save the good thoughts about Ms. Berkowitz for a meeting when she is present, Ms. Langsner did emphasize Ms. Berkowitz’s “wonderful leadership” and she said that “any accolade” possible would describe Barbara Berkowitz. “She leaves no stone unturned, even in times of personal stress,” Ms. Langsner added.

As the meeting drew to a close, Mr. Ashkenase made a short statement, expressing his delight at being on the board for so many years and his pleasure in working on a board where “there are no egos.” He spoke of how each member of the board is interested in only “what’s best for public education in Great Neck.” And, he added, “We know the difference between policy and management.” Mr. Ashkenase thanked the community for their support.

The board of education’s next full public action meeting is Monday, Sept. 14, 8:30, at South High School.