By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE — One more item was added to the Southgate Community Schools punch list as the district prepares for the 2012-2013 academic year: Hire a principal for Grogan Elementary School.
Supt. William Grusecki said last week the unexpected departure of longtime principal Tim Barlage will leave considerable shoes to fill, but that the decision was understood as being in Barlage’s best interest.
The district announced last week that Barlage accepted the position of principal at Riverview’s Huntington Elementary School.
“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Grusecki said of Barlage, who first joined Trenton in 1993 as a teacher and has served as principal for 11 years. “He lives in Riverview, his kids go to school there.”
Grusecki – who just finished unpacking office boxes himself since accepting Trenton’s top administrative post in March and reporting for duty last month – admitted that the short-notice comes “at kind of a critical time,” but that the job posting resulted in strong candidates, both from outside the district and open to internal options.
“If they’re qualified, have a good leadership in the buildings, obviously we’ll look at that,” Grusecki said. “More districts are moving toward looking at internal candidates.”
The superintendent and board expect to review applications this week and begin interviews as soon as possible.
“We’ll have someone in there on opening day,” Grusecki said.
Grusecki follows the interim superintendent service of Nancy Nagle, who agreed last year to fill in while a candidate search was held to replace David Peden. The district last year cancelled general education bus service and privatized custodial service, among other financial considerations. Grusecki said that he’s confident of the staff at the schools, but aware of the challenges.
“There are financial questions, just like any other school in Michigan,” Grusecki said of state funding formulas. Contracts with employees are in place until the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, Grusecki said, and he anticipates having negotiations concluded in advance.
“The best assets here are the people,” Grusecki said, noting the differences and similarities between Southgate and his previous post in Arenac. “I came from a smaller community, and even though this is a larger one the people are similar: They care passionately about their jobs, the district, the people and the city. They’re tight with Southgate, and that’s what clicked with me.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)