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SWR school district hires interim superintendent

Neil Lederer

The Shoreham-Wading River school board has appointed an interim superintendent to replace Steven Cohen, who in February announced plans to retire this summer.

Neil Lederer, 71, who currently serves as interim superintendent for the Hauppauge school district, will begin his new role Aug. 31.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board unanimously approved Mr. Lederer’s appointment Tuesday. Members Jack Costas and Richard Pluschau were absent from the meeting.

Mr. Lederer said he’s been an educator for 50 years. He has a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from New York University and a bachelor of science in biology from Long Island University.

In addition to working as a teacher and principal before serving as superintendent for the Lindenhurst school district, Mr. Lederer was interim superintendent for the Three Village and Bayport-Blue Point school districts.

Mr. Lederer’s experience ultimately led the Shoreham-Wading River school board to select him as Dr. Cohen’s replacement, board president John Zukowski said.

“He had very strong recommendations from everyone we spoke to,” Mr. Zukowski said. “He also had some experience with schools with ongoing bond construction.”

Mr. Zukowski said the school board reached out to the Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) when it came time to hire a superintendent. BOCES provided the board with a list of potential candidates and their resumes.

The school board then conducted interviews, ultimately signing Mr. Lederer to a 10-month contract that ends June 30, 2017.

As interim superintendent, Mr. Lederer said, his responsibilities are the same as any other superintendent — but his short tenure alters his goals slightly.

“You’re sensitive to not making radical changes because you’re not going to be there that long as an interim,” he said. “Usually, you’re just refining a few things and making some minor adjustments to further enhance the efficiency of the district and the organization of the district.”

Mr. Lederer said he plans to visit the district before his start date and work with Dr. Cohen to help ease the transition. He also hopes to meet with the administration, community and building principals, as well as attend school board meetings meetings so he’ll be “ready to go” when school begins in September.

Mr. Zukowski said the Board of Education will form a search committee consisting of school board members and residents tasked to select a full-time superintendent. For now, Mr. Lederer said he’s excited to meet the SWR community and determine the district’s focus for the upcoming school year.

“One of the things I like to pride myself in is I communicate a great deal,” he said. “I place an emphasis on communicating what the school district is doing with parents and our staff, as well.”

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Photo: Neil Lederer will begin his role interim superintendent at the Shoreham-Wading River School District in August. (Credit: Hauppauge school district)