Honoring Former Superintendent Dr. O’Rourke

It is with a heavy heart that the BH-BL community says goodbye to former Superintendent Dr. Richard “Dick” O’Rourke. He passed away Friday at the age of 90.

Dr. O’Rourke served as the school district’s 3rd superintendent, from 1969-1994. He was one of only six superintendents in BH-BL’s 105-year history, and is the district’s longest tenured superintendent. During his 25-year tenure, Dr. O’Rourke guided the district and community with integrity, professionalism and fairness through the good times and bad.

Dr. O’Rourke was here when the district experienced declining enrollment in the early 1980s that forced the closure of an elementary school. He was also here when labor unrest impacted public education across the state in the 1970s. He navigated this tumultuous period by partnering–rather than battling–with the teacher association leadership, helping to create principles of teamwork and an environment of respect that is the driving force behind the success of the BH-BL Central School District to this day.

Dr. O’Rourke truly led in the spirit of what is often called The Burnt Hills Way:  teachers, parents, and school leadership intentionally working together to create a high-quality educational experience for our children in a supportive, caring community. This is a belief that every BH-BL staff member strives to uphold. The mark Dr. O’Rourke has left on BH-BL is immeasurable.

BH-BL Spartans send their heartfelt condolences to his wonderful wife Barbara and his family.

From the BH-BL Board of Education:Dick’s reputation as an educator and proponent of the Burnt Hills Way will not be forgotten either by those who were fortunate enough to know him or by those of us who are privileged enough to serve as caretakers of the proud traditions he initiated and continued.  Though he was a transplant to the area, Dick’s impact on generations of BH-BL students is undeniable.  He shepherded the District through an era of record-setting growth as well as a period of contraction and stabilization.  His steady hand and unflappable nature ensured that every BH-BL student graduated with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful personally, professionally and academically.  He will be missed but he will not be forgotten.”  

Here is a link to his obituary with many details about his life.

Dr. O’Rourke’s Career Highlights

1951-1969: English teacher, Guidance Counselor, High School Assistant Principal, Junior High Principal, and Assistant Superintendent at Detroit Public High School in Michigan

1969-1994: BH-BL Superintendent of Schools

Professional Service

  • 1974-75: Member of the NYS Educational Conference Board
  • 1976-77: Member of the NYS Commissioner of Education’s Advisory Board
  • 1976-78: Member of the House of Delegates of the NYS Council of School Superintendents
  • 1977-78: Chairman of the Capital Area School Development Association
  • 1979-81: Curriculum Committee Chair of the NYS Council of School Superintendents
  • 1980-86: Member of the Executive Board & Treasurer of the Coalition for School Finance Reform in New York State
  • 1987-89: Chairman of the Advisory Council on School Administration of the Department of Educational Administration & Policy Studies at SUNY Albany
  • 1988-90: Education Unit Chairman for the United Way of Schenectady County Annual Campaign
  • 1991-94: Chairman of the District Superintendent’s Cabinet for Albany-Schenectady-Schoharie BOCES
  • Feb. 1990: Named one of the top 100 school executives in American by Executive Educator magazine.
  • May 1994: Received a Cooperative Leadership Award from the National School Development Council