By Jeff Gallatin
For outgoing interim Superintendent Terry Krivak, the word “I” remains largely a foreign language in how he works on school district issues.
With today being his last day as the interim superintendent of the North Olmsted school district after he was appointed to lead the district after former Superintendent Cheryl Dubsky retired in 2012, Krivak said he appreciated the support from others in the district, the city and its residents.
“Whenever you enter into something like this, it’s not something you do by yourself,” he said. “I’m glad people seem to think we got a lot accomplished during my time here, but a lot of of people are responsible for that.”
During a recent special school board meeting, Krivak was lauded by board members for what was accomplished in the district during the past year. With Krivak leaving, Michael Zalar, the former superintendent of the Oregon City Schools, is becoming superintendent.
Among the items cited as being accomplished during the past year: getting contracts finalized with district teachers, non-teaching personnel and administrators; maintaining the district’s string of as “Excellent” or “Excellent With Distinction” ratings in the annual state report card rankings; getting an all-day kindergarten program ready for implementation in the 2013-2014 school year; getting programs ready to deal with the state’s new third grade reading requirement mandates; and even helping establish a robotics team at the high school.
Nonacademic areas were also cited by officials, such as moving forward on major capital improvements (a new roof at Maple School, adding air conditioning at the high school, putting a new phone system in place, adding security such as cameras and other improvements to district buildings and buses); helping devise new traffic flow patterns in district schools; and proposing long-term improvements for the district in the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan.
Board members and other officials cited Krivak’s wide range of activity.
“He acted in a proactive and energetic manner focused on addressing long-standing issues and planning for the future of the district,” Joann Dicarlo, the senior member of the board with more than 30 years’ experience, said.
“He definitely was not a caretaker superintendent; he worked well with many people throughout the community and helped me learn a lot about districts and how they operate,” Linda Cleary, the newest member who is in her first term on the board, said.
North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy said Krivak was a fine leader and partner on issues such as safety, facilities and the community as a whole.
‘Terry was great to work with in many areas,” Kennedy said. “I’ve really enjoyed working with him. I’m looking forward to working with Mike (Zalar) and having a good relationship with him.”
For his part, Krivak said areas such as getting the contracts done and maintaining the “Excellent With Distinction” rating had a head start on being done.
“The talks were already under way on the contracts as well as the academic work,” he said. “I do have a lot of experience on both sides of the table as an administrator and as a teacher, which helps me understand where the different parties are coming from. We had teachers and staff who care about the district and its students, that was apparent during the negotiations. And we were able to work with the administrators as well.”
Krivac said initiatives such as the all-day kindergarten, third-grade reading mandate and even the controversial earlier start for the school day all were made with the idea of bettering the educational programs for the district.
“It’s an ongoing process,” he said. “We have to deal with new federal and state mandates and still provide the best educational programs we can within the resources we have.”
Krivak acknowledged that the earlier start times drew fire from some parents, but said they fall within what many districts are currently doing. The parents said the earlier start times could cause sleep and study issues for district students.
“We have other districts around us such as Westlake, North Ridgeville and others who all start in roughly the same time,” he said. “We took a long, hard look at how to do it in our district as educators and came up with what we felt was the best time. It ties in with areas such as the new traffic patterns and how we get the students to and from school.”
He said the new technology encompassed both educational and safety
“We had fun putting the new robotics teams in place for the district, and it did well for the first year,” said Krivak. “As to the safety, we have a strong relationship with the city and we’re fortunate that we were able to work on putting in new measures after what happened at Sandy Hook and elsewhere. It’s something that you have to do nowadays.”
Referring to the Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, which talked about building a new high school, making the current high school a middle school and consolidating lower grades into fewer schools, Krivac said, “Those are improvements which can really boost a community. I think the Stadium Foundation is really onto something with what it’s working on. The 2020 concept goes along with the idea of those improvements along with others in the district, and I would hope that the community continues to go along and discuss and work on them. I would hope that they would not go away.”