New Warrensburg Central Superintendent of Schools John Goralski talks about his initial impressions of the local public school system — and his objectives for its future — in an interview Dec. 9.
Immersed in his new job for one week and a day, new Warrensburg Central School Superintendent John Goralski talked Friday about his initial impressions of the school system, the local communities and the challenges that exist ahead.
Goralski started in his position as of Dec. 1, following the retirement of Tim Lawson, who had served as Warrensburg Central’s superintendent for a decade.
Goralski said that he recently attended a WCS Junior Honor Society induction ceremony, and was impressed not only with the students and parents he encountered, but with the quality of the high school jazz ensemble’s performance.
“They were just phenomenal,” he said, noting that they were equal in ability to any similar group in the region, despite the school having a limited enrollment.
This group, he said illustrated the level of competence and high standards upheld by the WCS school district.
“There are a lot of great things happening in this school system, whether it’s academics, the music program, or the drama club,” he said. “Warrensburg’s schools have so much potential and so much to offer — and people are very proud of the community here.”
Goralski said he spent months observing the school system and conducting research into Warrensburg before taking on the job.
He said he learned that Warrensburg Central’s academic standards are high, the staff is dedicated and the teachers inspire students to perform well and either continue their studies at well-respected colleges, or delve into rewarding careers.
“For a school with a small student body, a lot of students end up going to very prestigious colleges, and that’s very impressive,” he said.
Also, the school and its community are adept at dealing with adversity, he continued.
Goralski said he’s heard the school leaders, staff, the community and the school district taxpayers remained dedicated to education during the recent recession, and they continued providing and supporting a top-quality program.
“The success the school system has experienced in tough economic times is a testament not only to the staff, but the support the school received from people in the community,” he said.
Goralski has pursued various careers over the last 30 years. He graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 1983 with a degree in Environmental Science and Planning, and took a job as a site developer with a construction company in Boston. He then moved on to development work in Lowell Mass., which included rehabilitating an old mill building. Later, he owned his own construction company, then moved to Queensbury in 1988, where he initially worked for the municipal government as a planner.
Goralski moved on to work locally for Richard Jones Associates Architects, then took a job as code enforcement officer for the town of Queensbury.
Goralski then decided to change careers, so he went back to school and received a Masters Degree in teaching in 1998 and took a job as a 4th grade teacher at Abraham Wing elementary, he said.
“I was looking for something more fulfilling,” he said.
From there, he took a job teaching third grade at Queensbury Elementary school, and then he was named Assistant Principal and Committee on Special Education chairman at Queensbury — and he served in that role for five years.
Following that tenure, he moved on to the position of principal at Stillwater Elementary, serving there for six and a half years before taking the superintendent post in Warrensburg.
Goralski said he became interested in the WCS post through being acquainted with WCS High School Principal Doug Duell and Elementary Principal Amy Langworthy through their mutual association with BOCES.
“I then researched the school and community, and I was very impressed,” he said.
The big challenge ahead for the school district, he said, is to maintain quality programs while curbing tax growth — all in the face of shrinking state aid. He said that the Warrensburg School District has lost $4 million in state aid over the last four years.
Among the initiatives Goralski is considering is to aggressively seek out federal, state and private grants, and work with local government for opportunities for shared services. He also envisions collaborating with educational institutions like SUNY Adirondack and SUNY Plattsburgh — to expand opportunities for local students to pursue specialized and advanced programs, as well as to provide teachers with professional development options.
Also, he and other school officials have talked of expanding the use of the WCS Distance Learning classroom for more subjects than are now offered.
Also, he wants to enhance career training opportunities for local students that are not headed off for college — while enhancing programs for academically advanced students.
“My vision is to continue on that path and make the Warrensburg Schools the best that they can be — and serve as a model for other schools in the Adirondacks,” he said.