There was a time in her career when Dr. Rosmarie Bovino, the superintendent of the Island Park school system, was more concerned with the typhoons that swept into Hong Kong from the China Sea than with other types of storms.
Bovino spent more than five years as the director of the Chinese International School in Hong Kong in the late 1980s, after serving as the director of curriculum at the Friends Academy on Long Island.
“Storms were a large concern in Hong Kong, and we were constantly evacuating the school to shelters,” Bovino recalled. “We never had too much damage to the school.”
Last fall, however, Hurricane Sandy devastated not only Bovino’s Island Park home, but the village’s two public schools as well. One of them, the Lincoln Orens Middle School, reopened within two weeks, thanks to generators and temporary boilers. The other, the Francis X. Hegarty Elementary School, remained closed for the rest of the school year, but will reopen — most likely to great fanfare — on Sept. 3.
Bovino, 60, who has been in Island Park for 12 years — eight as assistant superintendent and the remainder as superintendent — sat back in her new office in what was once the town library building last week, recalled her experiences in the aftermath of Sandy and talked of her plans for the coming school year.
“Both of our schools were devastated by Sandy, but Lincoln Orens less so,” she said. “We got the middle school open in two weeks because of our long relationship with Nassau BOCES. We used their suppliers and their contractors to get the school open. Because Hegarty needed so much work, we gave up our wing at Lincoln Orens and gave the space to the elementary school students. We moved our district operations to BOCES in Garden City, and we were there until a week ago.
“We were lucky,” Bovino added. “You can prepare professionally for any traditional eventuality. You can’t prepare for a natural disaster the scope of Sandy. You just have to rise to the new challenge, and our community, board and staff did just that.”