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Leonard Bozza

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Photo by Elana Glowatz

A Miller Place official will change his rally colors to purple and white this summer.

The Port Jefferson school board hired Robert Neidig as the district’s new middle school principal on July 28, a couple of months after three-year principal Antonio Santana announced he would not return to the position for the 2015-16 school year.

Neidig, an assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School for the past eight years, will start at Port Jefferson on Aug. 17, a letter to the community from Superintendent Ken Bossert said.

A recent press release from the Port Jefferson school district said Neidig has two master’s degrees from Stony Brook University and a doctorate in educational administration from Dowling College, and started his career as a social studies teacher in Babylon before becoming an administrator.

At Miller Place, he “fostered a positive relationship between the school and community, initiated character education programs to improve the school climate, facilitated the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards and served as chairperson for four academic departments,” the press release said.

Until Neidig officially makes the move to Royals country, the middle school has an interim principal, Leonard Bozza, who was once the Longwood High School principal and has previously served in interim roles in Port Jefferson: once as an assistant principal and once as the high school principal.

In addition to appointing the new Port Jefferson Middle School leader, the school board also added Brentwood’s head of speech and hearing, Jodi Cahill, as the new director of special education and Claudia Smith, currently a Middle Country school district staffer, as the elementary and middle school assistant principal.

Cahill has a master’s in speech language pathology from LIU Post and served on Brentwood’s special education committee, the press release said. Smith has been an elementary teacher for 18 years and has a master’s from Dowling College.

“Each was selected based upon outstanding vision, strong content knowledge, and the ability to collaborate with all stakeholders in an effective manner,” Bossert said of the three new staffers.

The district is still looking for an assistant principal for Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, and Bossert said the goal is to have one appointed before school starts.

Neidig, Cahill and Smith are part of a new lineup throughout Port Jefferson schools. In addition to replacing Santana, the district had to find a replacement for Matthew Murphy, the former high school principal, who announced his departure a few months before Santana. Officials recently promoted Christine Austen to the position from her role as the assistant principal for grades pre-k through 12.

Smith is absorbing Austen’s former elementary and middle school duties and the educator who is hired as the high school’s assistant principal will complete that transition.

“This is an exciting time in the Port Jefferson school district,” Bossert said in the press release. “[It is] a time filled with opportunities for growth and development as new leaders join the team.”

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Port Jefferson Middle School has a new interim principal. Photo by Caroline Biondo

A familiar face will guide Port Jefferson Middle School as the district searches for a new principal.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday night, members approved Leonard Bozza to serve as interim principal effective July 1. The board resolution stipulates that Bozza will be in the role for no more than 100 days, and will be compensated $600 for each day.

According to a Wednesday letter from Superintendent Ken Bossert, Bozza was previously an interim assistant principal in the district and an interim high school principal. Before stepping into those roles at Port Jefferson, he had retired from his position as the Longwood High School principal.

The district is searching for a permanent replacement for outgoing Principal Antonio Santana, who announced earlier this month that he would not return for the 2015-16 school year, instead going to work for a Nassau County high school beginning in July.

Santana’s news came about three months after the high school principal, Matthew Murphy, announced his own departure at the end of the current school year, saying he was going “to pursue other educational opportunities.”

Murphy and Santana had been hired together three years ago to jointly replace Roseann Cirnigliaro, who had served as principal of both the middle and high schools.

Despite the pair’s coinciding resignations, the district has said the two schools will retain separate principals. Officials have already filled Murphy’s spot — Christine Austen, the Pre-K to grade 12 assistant principal, will take the helm of the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School.

Until a permanent middle school principal is chosen, parents can reach Bozza at the school’s main office, at 631-791-4431.