The Long Beach Board of Education voted 4-0, with a trustee absent, to appoint Dr. Jennifer Gallagher as the superintendent of schools at the March 22 school board meeting. District officials said she is the first woman to hold the position.
Gallagher, who was previously the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, served as an interim superintendent with the help of Executive Director of Human Resources Dr. Michele Natali and Chief Operating Officer Michael DeVito. The trio took on the role when former superintendent David Weiss stepped down and left the district for a new position with the International Baccalaureate organization in September.
Gallagher, 54, joined the Long Beach School District in 2016 and has more than 30 years of experience in education, having worked as a teacher and a principal in the past. She previously served as the Director of Instructional Services for the Valley Stream Central High School District as well as the principal of a private middle school in the Bronx and a charter school network director.
When board trustees asked Gallagher if she would apply for the position, she initially hesitated, she said, because she was concerned about balancing duties between the job and raising two young daughters.
“Serving in the interim position, however, I grew to believe that I could balance both roles, and knew that I had a real passion for educational leadership and a love for the community,” Gallagher said.
When she interviewed with board members for the position, she presented them with a five-year plan for the district that aims to enhance educational opportunities for students.
Gallagher, a Freeport resident, collects a $225,000 salary as superintendent.
School board members hired School Leadership LLC, a search consultant, for about $19,000 in October to help with the search for a permanent superintendent. They looked at a pool of about 30 candidates, school board President Stewart Mininsky said.
“It was an arduous task, and the process we used I think saved us months of time,” Mininsky said at the meeting. “So if you translate that into what it cost, I think it was a fair expenditure. I look forward to working with Dr. Gallagher for the remainder of my term. I think what we are going to do tonight is we’re going to set Long Beach on a course that it’s never seen before, and it’s going to be an honor to work with her.”
“As I walk through our schools, I see dedicated and talented staff members and students who are creative, kind, and enthusiastic,” Gallagher said. “That is the recipe for a wonderful school system. I look forward to building on that foundation and making Long Beach schools a model of what true student-centered, innovative, community-minded schools can be.”
*Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the school board voted 4-1 to appoint Gallagher. We regret the error.