Written by Pete Sheehan Thursday, 06 June 2013 00:00
The Oyster Bay-East Norwich Board of Education last week appointed a new superintendent of schools, Dr. Laura Seinfeld, a former assistant superintendent for the district.
“The district will be in good hands,” said Dr. Phyllis Harrington, outgoing superintendent, who announced in April that she is leaving the district to become superintendent of schools in Oceanside. The school board, which had been interviewing applicants, unanimously approved the appointment at their May 28 meeting at the Oyster Bay High School Library.
Seinfeld, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools since 2010, previously served as assistant superintendent for instruction for the Oyster Bay-East Norwich schools.
When the district advertised for candidates for the superintendent’s position, explained Ann Marie Longo, school board president, “we received applications from 35 well-qualified applicants.”
After careful consideration, Longo said, the board chose Seinfeld for her qualifications as well as her familiarity with the district and its administration and personnel.
“I absolutely loved my time in Oyster Bay,” Seinfeld said in an interview. She wanted to be a part of the district’s educational accomplishments.
Born in Brooklyn, Seinfeld grew up in Rosedale, Queens. She studied English and secondary education at the State University of New York, Albany.
“After graduation, I briefly worked in advertising,” before taking a position as an English teacher at John Bowne High School, Flushing, Queens.
She continued teaching in various schools in Queens, eventually becoming a supervisor and administrator.
From 1997 to 2002 she served as a department chair and grade level supervisor for English language arts for the Hewlett-Woodmere schools.
Seinfeld became director of curriculum for grades kindergarten through 12 for the Smithtown Central School District in 2002.
From 2005 to 2010 she served as assistant superintendent for instruction for Oyster Bay-East Norwich before returning to Hewlett-Woodmere.
She also has received a master’s degree in secondary education and a specialist diploma in school supervision and administration from Queens College, as well as a doctorate in education from Hofstra University.
Seinfeld said that she worked closely with Harrington and other district administrators, as well as with the teachers, parents and students.
“I think that I will be prepared to hit the ground running.” She also hopes to, in cooperation with the “entire learning community,” be able to build on the successes of the district, Seinfeld said.
The board also accepted Harrington’s resignation effective June 30. Harrington said that she plans to make an official statement before her departure. Former board member Keith Kowalsky praised and congratulated Harrington during a public commentary period.
In other commentary, two residents of Larrabee Avenue, which runs by Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, complained that several nights a week a group of “nighttime basketball players” occupy the school’s outdoor basketball court until early in the morning.
"They are men, not kids,” the woman said, and they engage in loud and foul language, often playing loud music on their boom boxes and other crude and disruptive behavior.
“This is unacceptable,” she said.
When board members asked why the court isn’t locked at night, Chris Van Cott, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, explained that on weekends, holidays, and summers, the court cannot be locked because there would be no one there to open it in the morning for daytime use.
Longo asked about custodial staff who work by contract over the weekend. Van Cott noted that members of the custodial staff are contracted for a limited time for patrol duty, but that would not be sufficient time for them to be available in the morning.
Harrington said that the district would look into the problem.
There was also an announcement of the retirement of two longtime music teachers, Stephen Walker, seventh and eighth grade band director and music teacher, and Robert Stern, teacher and music director at Roosevelt.
Harrington praised both for their years of service, noting that they will be missed and “very, very hard to replace.”
The board also heard a report from Elliot “Butch” Garrison, who chairs the Oyster Bay High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. The committee is planning new features for the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, located in the gymnasium lobby, including a timeline of Oyster Bay athletics.
“There is a lot of history that we want to preserve,” said Garrison, a 1970 graduate of the high school and a star football player.