Jarczyk looks back on two decades on school board


Jody Peccia, left, has taken the seat of Carol Jarczyk, right, on the West Seneca Board of Education after Jarczyk opted not to seek re-election.

Jody Peccia, left, has taken the seat of Carol Jarczyk, proper, on the West Seneca Board of Education after Jarczyk opted to not search re-election.

Carol Jarczyk is now not a member of the West Seneca School Board because the calendar flipped to the 2020-21 school yr Wednesday.

The former board president opted to not run for re-election after serving 16 of the previous 19 years on the board. However, Jarczyk’s involvement with the district goes far past holding a board seat and far additional back than her preliminary election in 2001.

Jarczyk didn’t develop up in West Seneca or attend a school within the district. She’s from Cheektowaga, however moved to West Seneca when she married Mark Jarczyk, a West Seneca native. Her sons, Andrew and David, each attended Northwood Elementary, beginning within the 1980s. Jarczyk grew to become concerned in school actions early on, and credit that to then-school principal, Dr. Mark Crawford, who would go on to function district superintendent decades later.

“I don’t know if there was a different leader there, that I would have gotten more involved. Dr. Crawford, who is beloved in our district, got me involved,” Jarczyk stated. “He was with us for nine years at Northwood and seven years as our superintendent … Mark brought in unique, different ideas. He played football with the boys every day at lunch just to calm down the lunch ladies.”

Jarczyk was concerned with a number of endeavors at Northwood Elementary through the years. In addition to serving on the Parent-Teacher Association, she volunteered with the breakfast program, helped fundraise to construct the school’s playground and even was concerned in updating the school’s curtains.

“Mark’s mother came to a spaghetti dinner we were holding,” Jarczyk stated. “She got here in and I overheard her say to Mark, ‘Oh my God, those curtains are old and look, they’re stained.’ I used to be the president of the PTA, so I went to Mark afterward and requested if we may fundraise for brand new curtains. The curtains which are up there as we speak are people who we fundraised for and had sufficient cash for them.

“We learned how to fireproof them with our custodian. We had them laid out on the ground outside. They actually used all kind of sewing machines that teachers brought in. And they’re still there.”

Jarczyk was constantly impressed with Crawford’s means to make difficult-seeming occasions, journeys and tasks occur. When her son, David, was in sixth grade, he was a part of a visit the place 99 college students went on a subject journey to Toronto to see “Phantom of the Opera.”

“To me, those are things kids will never forget,” Jarczyk stated. “I thought, ‘What a great start {Crawford] has given them to their education. I give him credit, because he was the brainchild for a lot of this stuff.”

All of this stuff bought Jarczyk extra concerned within the district.

Jarczyk’s son performed baseball for the South Cheektowaga League back within the late 1990s, and was coached by Dave Smaczniak, a member of the West Seneca School Board on the time. One day, when speaking in regards to the faculties, he really helpful she run for a board seat, telling her she’d be good on the job. At first, she balked on the concept, pondering she was not certified. But the extra she considered it, the higher of an concept it gave the impression of.

“Then I started looking into it,” Jarczyk stated. “I’m thinking, ‘Maybe I could do this.’ I was on the shared decision-making team in the building. I thought, ‘I don’t think I can do this’ at first then, too. But it’s really opinions, that’s all advisory boards are.”

Jarczyk initially ran in 2000, however was unsuccessful. But she persevered, working once more in 2001 and successful this time. She didn’t know anybody on the board at first, however over time started to grasp the job extra. By the time the second yr of her time period rolled round, she was requested to be the board’s vice chairman. Again, she was uncertain if she was prepared, however accepted the function. The following yr, she was elected president by her fellow board members. In all, she would function president six instances and vice chairman twice. She seen communications as key to the management positions above all else.

“A couple of the guys from the board called me the day of the board meeting and said, ‘We’re going to nominate you for vice president,” Jarczyk stated. “I said, ‘What? I don’t think I’m ready for that.’ But they nominated me and then the next year, I was president in my third year on the board. I was so proud that they trusted me. I’ve seen over the years that everyone has their own style. But a president is really a facilitator. It keeps the seven of us involved. I was probably overly conscientious in that regard. I remember one year Mary Busse was my vice president and we’d split up the board’s names when there was something they had to know.”

In 2004, Jarczyk opted to not run for re-election. She selected as a substitute to hunt a city board seat. Although, she notes, it’s technically authorized to sit down on each a school and city board, she didn’t need anybody to assume she wasn’t critical about one or the opposite. She finally misplaced in a detailed major. Although she had misplaced her first school board race and are available back to win a seat the next yr, she had little interest in doing any such factor within the city. She was not a fan of politics.

“It was a totally different experience,” Jarczyk stated. “When people say schools aren’t political, lately with Facebook and all that, they’re making it political, but it really isn’t. But with the town? Holy cow, it’s a different animal.”

Jarczyk stayed concerned with the district, and determined she needed to run for school board as soon as once more. However, she appreciated the incumbents in 2005 and 2006 and couldn’t deliver herself to run towards them. In 2007, the person who had taken her seat in 2004 stop. Jarczyk ran for her previous seat and gained. She ran and gained three extra instances after that.

In her first time period back, the largest problem of her time on the school board emerged and developed by the next two phrases. The monetary disaster of 2008 led to fiscal points in all places, West Seneca included. Soon after, New York state began making huge cuts to state help. The district struggled financially, finally being listed by the New York State Comptroller’s Office as being in “severe fiscal stress.” Over the course of a number of years, the district was capable of shed that designation and construct up its fund steadiness to a wholesome degree.

But these instances weren’t with out ache. The district needed to minimize fourth-grade music briefly, finally including it back once more. Veteran lecturers have been incentivized to retire. Meanwhile, training reforms within the state caught the ire of lecturers and oldsters, alike. Crawford had been lately employed as school superintendent and he or she credit him for getting the district by it with out huge layoffs.

“I hate to sound redundant, but guess who was leading the way to Albany? Dr. Crawford was,” Jarczyk stated. “He had a ton of fogeys concerned. They would go as much as Albany and communicate. I nonetheless have a ton of these speeches that folks gave. I keep in mind we had a giant occasion at Kleinhans Music Hall. There was quite a lot of totally different districts there. It was packed. It was all for the youngsters. It was making an attempt to show to the take a look at. You have to show youngsters in order that they study. That’s what Mark was main the trail on. I sort of questioned if a more recent superintendent would wish to paved the way he did.

“He was the superintendent, so I can’t help but give him credit. Other school districts had layoffs left and right. We had very minimal and we’ve brought them all back. Our goal was to try to cut other things. We cut fourth-grade instruments, and you’d think we were cutting the jugular. The parents were not happy. That was one of the cuts that saved money. We didn’t have to lay off a teacher or an aide or a bus driver. We cut back on buses. I thought we did it the right way because we cut them by not replacing bus drivers who were retiring. I thought we made some pretty smart choices.”

In latest years, one of many district endeavors Jarczyk is most happy with is the “curriculum cabinet,” which is made up of directors and lecturers, who work collectively to set the curriculum of every topic in school, in order that it’s uniform throughout the district.

“It’s a bunch of administrators that work hand-in-hand with everything you can name in our school – math, science, whatever,” Jarczyk stated. “They work as a team and then they spread out and go back to the buildings because we want them to be aligned. Years ago, what you did in third grade at Northwood, you did not do at Clinton Street. Now, they all are aligned and they work more and more. They have these team-building things. The teachers come up with ideas. They take them back to curriculum cabinet. I’m hoping it stays forever. I think it’s wonderful.”

Jarczyk is aware of the district takes some warmth from those that balk at instructor salaries in West Seneca – among the many highest in Western New York. But she believes this is because of how lengthy lecturers keep in West Seneca, which she views as a constructive.

“People used to pick on us that we have the highest-paid teachers, but our teachers come and they don’t leave,” Jarczyk stated. “They take ownership. My favorite thing is seeing a principal or a teacher, without them seeing me as a board member, interacting with a student.”

Although Jarczyk says she by no means stopped having fun with her time on the school board, she didn’t really feel strongly about working as 2020 approached. Around Christmas 2019, she started to really feel as if it was time to hold it up and let another person run for her seat. Having already retired from her job, working the payroll for Erie County Medical Center, she knew what it meant to really feel it was time to retire. She didn’t make a proper announcement, however dropped hints at board conferences that this may be her remaining yr.

She gained’t lack for methods to maintain busy within the years to come back. She’s already accepted a volunteer place on the district’s finance academy advisory board. She’s additionally on the volunteer board at ECMC and works within the present store on the hospital. Additionally, she’s a member of the West Seneca Women’s Club.

Of course, she’ll even have the connections that she made as a school board member; not simply along with her fellow board members, however with college students, as effectively. Long earlier than she was on the school board, she volunteered to assist out with particular wants college students in numerous methods at Northwood. She loved it and continued to do it for a few years, beginning with simply chaperoning college students at a pool and finally taking youngsters on journeys to Disney. She nonetheless has relationships with former particular wants college students to at the present time.

“I got to know the kids so well,” Jarczyk stated. “We went to the zoo with them, we went to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The kids all had their unique thing. When we got Unified sports, which is special needs students along with general education students, it was right up my alley.”

She spoke about two of the youngsters who had a particular place in her coronary heart.

“We got to go on little trips together. They’re in their late 20s now. They’re starting to understand more. The autistic one would never ask questions. I pick him up every Wednesday and I drop him off at his house. I’ve become really good friends with the family. His mom said that he would never really ask questions. He asks questions now. I try to engage him in conversation. I know how to make him laugh now, I didn’t know before.”

Going ahead, Jarczyk is aware of that the board and the district can have a troublesome time forward, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. Hard selections should be made, simply as they have been earlier within the decade. Her hope is the board and district directors have an open line of communication.

“I hope that our leadership keeps the board in tune and communicates more,” Jarczyk stated. “I hope they’re more involved in that and part of that decision-making. It’s going to be interesting times. We just got a couple things that were out there for everyone to read. It’s kind of interesting. Everyone has their own take on this. I don’t know what direction we’re going to take. I don’t think there are decisions made yet. I, as a board member, haven’t heard any. It’s going to be interesting to see if we even start in September. It’s like I said last week, ‘Communicate, communicate.’ We can’t stop doing that. The board, administrators, everyone.”

She reached out to the board with well-wishes on her remaining day as a member Tuesday, giving them recommendation she’s lengthy held onto.

“I sent a nice text to the board today and said, ‘Best of luck.’ This isn’t the easiest time for anybody. I said to them, ‘Respect is earned, honesty is appreciated, trust is gained and loyalty is returned.’ I said I’ve always done that with my children, with my work on the board and I think it’s to go by. I don’t know who told me that years ago. This morning, I wanted to send them a goodbye and I think I just ended it by saying, ‘Farewell.’”

Jarczyk will probably be changed on the board by Jody Peccia, a fellow “Northwood mom.” Peccia is youthful, with a toddler who’s a scholar within the district, and Jarczyk stated at her final school board assembly that she was delighted to get replaced by her. She doesn’t know Peccia effectively, however obtained a name from her, back in April when she was contemplating working for the board. Jarczyk gave her some recommendation and wished her effectively. The two met once more Tuesday, as Peccia prepares to take on her new function.

“Jody seems to be awesome,” Jarczyk stated. “I couldn’t have hand-picked a better replacement, not that I ever would. But with eight candidates this year, I was happy to see an internal girl. To me, that’s where they’re bringing the heart. She’s still got a kid in school and whatnot.”

Jarczyk hopes that going ahead, good candidates don’t let a insecurity cease them from searching for a school board seat, the best way she nearly did 20 years in the past.

“There’s a lot of people out there that would be great on the board, but they think they can’t do it,” Jarczyk stated. “That’s what I thought at the beginning, too. As long as you have a brain and you take it seriously and sit and really listen and get to know the district.”

Now that her board obligations aren’t any extra, Jarczyk looks ahead to volunteering extra and never having board obligations cease her from attending household occasions. However, as unlikely as it might really feel to her now, she did go away the door open to a possible return sooner or later.

“Now I’ll probably have more time to volunteer,” Jarczyk stated. “Sometimes we were preparing for a work session or something and even my family, I couldn’t do certain things because I was on the board. Somebody said, ‘Oh, you got sick of it.’ No, I really didn’t. I loved it. And, who knows? Down the road, I can’t really picture it, but maybe I’ll run again.”

e-mail: tnigrelli@beenews.com



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