For the second time in less than two weeks, a superintendent of a Southtowns school district has announced his retirement from the post as school chief.
James Bodziak, who has served as Frontier’s superintendent since February 2011, announced at Tuesday’s (July 9) Frontier Central School Board meeting his resignation for retirement, effective September 9. Bodziak, 61, had earned an annual salary of $189,000, serving two and one-half years of the five-year contract he had signed. The contract had been slated to run through February 2016, as Bodziak had arrived at Frontier after previously serving as superintendent of the East Aurora School District for six years. Altogether, Bodziak has worked for 40 years as a school administrator, first starting as an elementary school teacher in the Orchard Park School District in 1973.
The move follows the retirement announcement on June 26 by Hamburg School District Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch, who was subsequently placed on administrative leave by the Hamburg Central School Board on July 2. Achramovitch’s retirement will take effect Aug. 10. Bodziak’s announcement comes with far less tumult than Achramovitch’s, although the Frontier school chief’s decision could be just as surprising, if not even more shocking, than the Hamburg superintendent’s.
Bodziak said he had originally planned to wait another year before making his retirement announcement. However, financial limitations brought to the district by outside mandates and other events, notably tax cap regulations and declining economy, were factors in his decision.
“Being an administrator is a lot different than it used to be,” Bodziak said following the meeting, which featured many well wishes from district officials. “There are a lot of pressures. I thought it over, and 40 years is a long ride. I thought I’d do something different.”
During Achramovitch’s tenure, the district’s four elementary schools formulated uniform math and reading programs, with a new math curriculum scheduled for the fall. The LEAD 21 reading program is currently in place. Additionally, a $29.75 capital project in the district was started and is currently in Phase II. The superintendent noted the importance of a new library being needed in Frontier High School, adding that building projects were pertinent projects in his previous tenures in East Aurora and Orchard Park.
Bodziak said a major bright spot of his tenure at Frontier is the communication between himself and the school administrators.
“From an academic standpoint, we’re always working with the assistant superintendents, the principals and the assistant principals on developing goals and targets,” said Bodziak. “These goals and targets focus on student achievement, which had been a new (initiative).”
The school chief added that he’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Diane, and various grandchildren. Board President Janet Plarr, who during Tuesday’s re-organization meeting was elected to another one term in that position, said in jest that Bodziak can enjoy further partaking in his hobby of golfing at an East Aurora golf course.
Bodziak’s retirement announcement had been brought as a late resolution item to Tuesday’s agenda. Various district officials expressed surprise at the meeting. Board Member Patrick Boyle thanked Bodziak for his dedication in serving the district during the last two and one-half years, adding that various pressures such as budgetary constraints and the Annual Professional Performance Review for teachers had likely contributed a bit to the decision.
“It’s a sad loss for the district, and I wish you and the wife (Diane) the best,” Boyle said.
The district school chief thanked former Orchard Park superintendent Chuck Stoddard for initially promoting Bodziak at a young age from a teacher to elementary principal at South Davis School. The move was considered at that time to be quite a transition, one that Bodziak is appreciative of.
Plarr said the board was going to begin to address the process of moving forward in seeking a new school chief, with an interim superintendent slated to be appointed at first. Prior to Bodziak’s hiring as superintendent in Frontier, Dr. Vincent Coppola had served in the district as search consultant and interim superintendent following the retirement of former superintendent Ronald DeCarli. Plarr noted that six superintendents have served during her tenure as a district official.
It was stated that various special meetings and executive sessions will likely be added to the board’s summer schedule to further address the matter of bringing a new superintendent on board. Bodziak noted that he will assist in the process moving forward and would be present for much of his remaining time.
In addition to Plarr being appointed board president for the next year, with the board vote being unanimous at 7-0, Board Member Martin Lalka was appointed Vice President by a board vote of 6-0-. Board Member Jack Chiappone abstained in the decision to elected Lalka VP. Tuesday’s meeting was the first in which the board was comprised of seven regular members, as the previous nine-member board had been downsized to seven as part of an approved item in the May 2012 budget vote.
Other reorganization session items included the announcement of the need to create a committee comprised of board members to address certain policies, including the annual May election, its procedures and election districts. Boyle expressed interest in joining such a committee.
Another meeting item included members of the Cloverbank Playground Committee and Parent Teachers Association announcing that $80,000 in donations have been obtained to be used toward purchasing and installing a new playground at Cloverbank Elementary, along with accompanying benches or tables for the surrounding area.
Demolition of the standing playground is scheduled for September, with the new playground slated for late October. A new walkway at the site will be installed by next spring. It was noted that the committee is still accepting donation to be represented in namesake bricks at the site.