Superintendent to retire at school year’s end

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

SOUTHGATE — Hard to believe it will have been just two years when Southgate Community Schools Supt. William Grusecki makes his retirement official next spring. Grusecki will have spent more than three decades in education, but the challenges he faced at Southgate packed a lot into a short period of time.

“It’s been a tough job,” Grusecki said. “It’s worn a lot on me. Something inside told me it was time to be done.”

Grusecki notified the board of education late last month that he would step down as superintendent at the end of the 2013-14 academic year, and the board is expected to address the announcement Tuesday.

The job was difficult from day one, Grusecki admitted. In 2012 he was named to the position that had been filled on an interim basis by Nancy Nagle, who had filled in for retiring Supt. David Peden. Nagle herself had a bumpy ride to helm, with budget cuts that eliminated bus service and privatized custodial work.

Grusecki’s first year as superintendent included announcements that three school buildings would close, and discovering that the budget deficit was four times larger than he had been told. After the 2012-13 year ended in tragedy, Grusecki began realizing that his education career was nearing an end.

“The profession is not what it used to be,” Grusecki said. State mandates, budget issues and other issues kept putting distance between educators and education, he said.

Most of his career had been spent in his native Arenac Eastern School District, a small enough community that Grusecki was both superintendent and principal. Although Downriver offered a larger population, he found the sense of community to be similar to his small-town roots, and welcomed the challenges.

In spite of an accelerated schedule to shutter three buildings and an inflated budget deficit, Grusecki said the staff, teachers and administrators did the best they could under difficult circumstances.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done,” Grusecki said. “When I walk out at the end of June the district will be in better shape because of a lot of people, not just the superintendent. I’ll be able to retire in good conscience.”

What that retirement will hold remains to be seen. Grusecki said his wife made him promise to “take three months off and not do anything,” after which he’ll consider his options. Something part-time, perhaps, just to keep busy. He’ll be 57 when his education career ends, with time left for new discoveries.

“I’ve got some gas left in the tank,” Grusecki said. “I just want to use it on something else.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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