Longtime Great Neck ed board Trustee Berkowitz to step down in June

Longtime Great Neck ed board Trustee Berkowitz to step down in June
Longtime Great Neck Board of Education Trustee Barbara Berkowitz. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck School District)

Longtime Great Neck Board of Education Trustee Barbara Berkowitz announced on Wednesday she will be stepping down from the board on June 30.

Berkowitz, appointed to the board in 1992, is one of four individuals to serve on the Great Neck Board of Education for 20 or more years.

With her 31 years of service coming to a close in June, she will have served the third-longest tenure in the history of the board, which has been around since 1894.

Serving the Great Neck community for the past three decades has been chiefly “a labor of love,” acknowledging the personal sacrifice and uphill challenges any volunteer workers face.

Berkowitz said the well-being of Great Neck students and promoting the school district remained top priorities throughout her tenure on the board.

“I’ve tried to do my very best to treat all members of the public with great respect and exhibit a spirit of collegiality and kindness toward our staff, as well as my colleagues, while always keeping the needs of our students uppermost in my mind,” Berkowitz said. “But despite my heavy heart, I know the time has come for me to move on and let someone else assume this seat on the board after June 30.”

Berkowitz served as a board president from 2006-2021, vice president from 2000-2003 and chair for the board’s Policy Committee from 1992-2006.

Before becoming a board member, Berkowitz served the school district community in other ways, including being a member and executive board officer for the E.M. Baker School Parent Teacher Association.

She was also a member and budget chairperson for the United Parent-Teacher Council and a member of Shared Decision-Making Committees at both Baker School and North Middle School.

Berkowitz said there would “be other opportunities” for her to address the board and the Great Neck community in the coming months. 

Berkowitz’s announcement followed Superintendent Teresa Prendergast’s notice of resignation last month. Prendergast’s resignation, set to go into effect July 21, was unanimously accepted by board members in January.

The resignation, board President Rebecca Sassouni said, was “for purposes of retirement.”

“I’m going to miss this community,” Prendergast said last month. “I’m going miss our students and faculty and our entire staff. But our work is not done and I’m not leaving yet.”

Before working in Garden City, Prendergast served at the Lynbrook Public Schools – first as principal of the Lynbrook South Middle School from 2000 to 2004 and then as assistant superintendent for curriculum and personnel from 2004 to 2006.

From 1994 until 2000, Prendergast worked for the Woodmere Middle School. She was mathematics chairperson from 1994 to 2000, an assistant principal from 1995 until 2000 and also served as teaching dean from January to June 1995, according to the school district.

The board and members of the public, on Wednesday, were treated to a presentation from District Wise Search Consultants, who will aid the district in finding Prendergast’s replacement.

Bob Freier, a partner of the company, said they will be conducting a national search, which will include constituent meetings comprised of community stakeholders, staff and students.

District Wise will gather input from the stakeholders with surveys and focus groups, Freier said. Advertisements, cloud-based application processes and recruiting candidates, he said, will also be ways that the company will help conduct the search.

The anticipated timeline the company outlined aims to have the board interview candidates beginning in May, with a successor ultimately appointed in June.

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