The Board of Education unanimously appointed Neal S. Miller as the permanent superintendent of schools during a special meeting on Tuesday.
According to Board President Janet Marinaccio, 49 candidates applied for the position, of which seven finalists were interviewed by the Board of Education.
Vice President Guy Rotondo added 18 of the candidates had previous superintendent experience, while 18 were from out of state, including 10 from New Jersey, three from Connecticut and one each from Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and South Carolina.
"In the end, there was one—and only one—clear choice; and we all agreed who that was," said Trustee Rosella Ranno. "Mr. Miller was this Board's unanimous first choice as a finalist in the process."
has held the position of interim superintendent in the district since July 1, 2010. Previously, Dr. Frances Wills held the position for 16 years.
The decision to appoint Miller, who currently serves as Superintendent of the Medina Central School District in Medina, NY, was unanimous.
"Medina is about our size," said Rotondo of the district located outside of Buffalo that he and Ranno visited prior to the appointment.
The Board of Education approved an employment contract with Miller that begins July 1 of this year and expires on June 30, 2016. His annual compensation for the year beginning July 1 is $235,000.
Miller graduated from Harvard University, where he studied English and English literature. He was also a three-year starting fullback on the school's varsity football team. Miller, who is also an experienced writer, began his teaching career as an English teacher and went on to become a middle school principal and high school principal.
Prior to holding the position as Medina district superintendent and director of curriculum, Miller served as principal of the Williamsville East High School in East Amherst, NY, for 14 years.
Marinaccio, she will not seek a second term to the Board of Education, said Miller led the high school "to the number one academic ranking of 111 public high schools in western New York."
Rotondo added Miller's Medina colleagues said "he's a leader in collaboration," and introduced a district leadership initiative in the schools, as well as a character development curriculum at the district's high school.
"He didn't just want Williamsville [East High School] to be a good school, he wanted it to be the best school," said Rotondo. "And I experience this as him having a competitive side, which I think is a good thing...we want to bring our students to the absolute highest level of educational opportunity."
Added Marinaccio—who said she has "been on cloud 9" since Miller accepted the position—"To Briarcliff Manor, Mr. Miller will bring excellence, experience, effort and enthusiasm. His priorities will lie with our students."
While Trustee Sal Maglietta recognized some community members have been upset the search process has been completely confidential, he said it allowed the district to attract the most capable candidates possible.
"[Miller] is going to be a terrific superintendent based on what I see and what I can feel as an individual," said Maglietta. "I think he will be very important for us in uniting our community, in bringing us together, despite our differences."
Said Miller, "We have an extraordinary school district and we can all work together to make it better. And that's what I pledge to do."
Added Trustee Eric Bashford, "Neal Miller is one of those people, I guarantee you, when you walk into a room...people are going to know Neal Miller is there and they are going to pay attention to what he's doing and they are going to want to follow his lead. I think that's a tremendous advantage for us as a school district and this community."
Miller told the audience today was the "second most exciting May 3 of my life," as it's also the birthday of his youngest child.
"What my goal is is to have the vast majority of our students getting contacts from people at Duke and Harvard and Princeton and Columbia and Yale; well, maybe not Yale," he joked, mentioning his 17-year-old son was contacted by a Duke University coach today.
He added he hopes to "help all of the teachers and administrators in this district take risks; to do things in a dynamic way, to be creative, to do the kinds of things that are going to make our schools soar."
Concluded Miller—who met with community members during a reception following the appointment—"I couldn't be more excited, more thrilled to come here. I just can't wait to get started."