BURLINGAME — Burlingame School District Trustee Michael Barber said it was the equivalent of a 99-yard Hail Mary pass. District Superintendent Sonny Da Marto called it "incredible."

At 3:30 p.m. Friday, with an hour and a half left in a 150-day search, a teacher walked into the district office at 1825 Trousdale Drive and saved the district's Spanish-language immersion program.

After six months of searching, Da Marto and the Board of Trustees were ready to admit defeat, having been unable to find a qualified, experienced candidate to launch the program, which will begin with one kindergarten class and add a grade every year.

The deadline for the search had already been extended by a month. A second extension was unlikely, since it would have interfered with the ability of the district's other schools to plan their fall schedules.

But talk of an extension became moot when one last candidate dropped in Friday afternoon, just before Da Marto was scheduled to attend a 4 p.m. graduation ceremony. Her mother had heard about the job opening on the radio, Da Marto said.

The superintendent was immediately impressed by her credentials, so while Da Marto presided over Burlingame Intermediate School's graduation, a hiring committee continued the interview.

They were equally impressed.

"She's actually just what we were looking for," said Da Marto, whose staff had interviewed eight candidates over the course of the search. "So it's pretty amazing."

On Monday, Da Marto sent word to parents whose children were signed up for the class that they had hired a teacher.

The district has not released any information about the instructor, aside from the fact that she has prior experience teaching immersion classes and hails from the Redwood City School District.

"It couldn't have been any closer," said Dave Pine, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "Everyone has worked so hard to make this immersion program a reality and some good luck was very much welcome."

The news was especially welcome for a group of parents who put in dozens of hours helping the district conduct its search.

"It's unbelievable," said Linda Hall, who helped coordinate the parents' efforts. "It's like a suspense movie — you never know what's going to happen next."

Staff writer Aaron Kinney can be reached at (650) 348-4302 or at akinney@sanmateocountytimes.com.