September 1, 2014

Kroczaleski selected as SSCS superintendent pending contract agreement

Says 4-3 vote is a “concern”

By James Kuch
News Editor | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — Darren Kroczaleski will be the next superintendent of the Standish-Sterling Community School District, pending a contract agreement.

The SSCS board of education voted 4-3 to appoint Kroczaleski, the Pinconning Area Schools superintendent, as the district’s superintendent at a special meeting on Thursday, Aug. 25.

Kroczaleski was selected over Capac Community Schools Superintendent Jerry Jennex.

Kroczaleski said he is excited about the opportunity that has been presented but said no deal has been made at this time.

“I will be sitting down with (Michael) Dewey in the next couple of days to discuss the proposed contract,” he said. “It might be done real quick or it might take a few days. We will see what happens.”

Kroczaleski said he finds the board’s 4-3 vote troubling.

“I was happy that the board chose me but I am concerned that the vote came out 4-3,” he said. “Although I have not signed anything I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District Superintendent Michael Dewey, who has been working as the SSCS acting superintendent, said the board could not go wrong with the decision they made.

“I think the board had two very viable candidates and the board made a good decision,” he said. “Darren is a very good administrator and I think everyone is going to be pleased with him and the job he is going to do.”

Dewey said he will meet with Kroczaleski to discuss the terms of a contract over the next couple of days to finalize the deal.

“Now the process starts,” he said. “By the end of the next couple of days, we will get those details figured out.”

Board President Dr. Leonard LeClair, voted in favor of Kroczaleski to break up a tied vote.

“The candidates were very close and I think that was reflected in the way the board voted,” LeClair said. “We could not go wrong selecting either of the two candidates.”

Before the board voted, board member Allen Schmidt voiced his desire for the board to schedule site visits at Capac Community Schools and Pinconning Area Schools.

“I would like to postpone this vote so we can get a chance to learn a little more about Jerry (Jennex),” he said. “I think they are both excellent candidates and I would like to go to Capac and I would like to go to Pinconning to see what they have done.”

Board member Gary Egan echoed Schmidt’s desire to do more research.

“I agree that this is a difficult decision,” he said. “I believe, at this time, that we should probably do a site visit to get more understanding and have more communication to be sure that this decision is correct.”

Board member Ronald Bartlett said he believes the time was right to select Kroczaleski.

“I do not think that doing a site visit that we will gain anything,” he said. “I think we have all the information and we did our homework over the last two weeks.”

LeClair said he does not want people to think the board was divided on the selection of Kroczaleski.

“I know it may look like the board is divided on this decision,” he said. “I don’t really think that is the case. I think we just had two excellent candidates.”

Board member Dennis Kolevar said his decision was based on a number of different criteria, but added that he believes Kroczaleski has a commitment to the local community.

“My deciding factor, and you can slap me on the face or kick me in the backside for saying this, I think that Mr. Kroczaleski has shown a commitment to this community and has always stayed here, even when he has worked in other areas,” he said. “His kids have gone through this school (district) even when it would have been easy for them to go to Pinconning.”

“We have all talked here about stabilization,” Kolevar said. “I really believe that we are going to be getting that.”

During his second interview on Tuesday, Aug. 23, Kroczaleski said SSCS was the place he wanted to finish his professional career.

“I began my career here, I want to finish my career here,” he said.

Kroczaleski told the board that he shares their love for the district.

“Each of you (the board) have a passion for this district,” he said. “I share that same passion. I have vested interest in this district, I always have.”

Kroczaleski said the Standish-Sterling community has always been his home.

“My own children have gone through this district. Just like many of you have had children, grandchildren go to this district, mine did as well,” he said. “I want the best for all of our students in this district, just as you do.”

“To me this is not just a job, it is a mission,” he said.

Jennex said during his second interview, Aug. 23, that he was thankful for the opportunity to interview for the position.

“I know you (the board) are looking for the best person to fit this district,” he said. “If that were me I would feel very honored and humble to have the opportunity.”

During final interviews the board asked Jennex why he believed he was a good fit for SSCS.

“I wanted to look at a position because I believe this is a good position for me,” he said. “I am ambitious and I wanted to try work in a district that was a little bigger and a better fit for me.”

Dewey said he will continue to help the SSCS board during the transition and will also reach out to the Pinconning Area Schools Board of Education to aid them for a new superintendent.

The board took a few moments to thank Dewey for helping them find a superintendent.

“I can’t thank Mr. Dewey enough,” Bartlett said.

“This process was very concise and the ISD did a fantastic job,” LeClair said.

Check back for further updates to this story.

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