2014 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Gary D. Bixhorn
Retired, Chief Operating Officer
Eastern Suffolk BOCES
Bixhorn, a champion of fiscal equality for Long Island schools, retired this January after 35 years of devoted service. Though he is best known for his outstanding leadership of Eastern Suffolk BOCES, he has been a devoted advocate of all Long Island schools.
Over the years, Bixhorn has worked closely with district superintendents to affect legislation, drive educational advancement and support the regional economy. Speaking before the Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness, Bixhorn said, "the state has a unique structure in place that is poised to promote cost-effectiveness, and it should be fully utilized to benefit the citizens of New York."
He has worked with legislators throughout the state to "separate the reality from the perception of Long Island." Bixhorn informed legislators that, while Long Island students outperform their peers throughout the state on assessments, more than 40 percent of Long Island school districts fall below New York state's wealth average.
A vocal opponent of the tax cap, Bixhorn surveyed districts throughout Long Island to demonstrate the impact of tighter school budgets on class sizes, teaching jobs and extracurricular activities. He took the result of these surveys to legislators, superintendents, school public relations experts, board members and the media. This year, he spearheaded the campaign against the state's Gap Elimination Adjustment budget formula, which reduces the amount of aid to school districts.
In addition to being the region's leading analyst of financial trends in education, Bixhorn is a strong proponent of career and technical education, having helped persuade legislators to vote for the creation of a technical diploma. He has also served on a variety of educational associations including chairman of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association's Legislative Committee.
"Gary Bixhorn is a leader's leader," wrote his award nominator. "He is one of the most vocal and effective advocates for Long Island school districts. His statewide efforts on behalf of students and education truly make him an irreplaceable leader."