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Finance chief to leave for similar job with Ken-Ton

Gerald J. Stuitje told the Lockport City School Board on Wednesday that he will leave Aug. 27 after five years as assistant superintendent of finance to take a similar post with the larger Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District.

His salary will rise to $129,000 from $119,000, but his responsibilities also will increase since he will be in charge of finances for a district with 9,000 students and an annual budget of $135 million compared with Lockport's 5,300 students and $70 million budget.

Allan W. Jack, board secretary, said the board will miss Stuitje because he had dealt with the serious financial problems he had inherited upon coming to Lockport.

"He stepped up to the plate and did an excellent job putting us back on track. We are in extremely good financial shape and will be for years to come because of the groundwork Jerry laid down for this district," Jack said.

Marietta Schrader, board president, said the district will begin looking for a successor immediately by advertising statewide through school districts, newspapers and professional magazines, and word of mouth.

"We are certainly going to miss Jerry. He's done a tremendous job. He's an expert at formulating budgets and explaining them to the public in terminology that's easy to understand. And he's a real nice guy. Our loss is definitely going to be Ken-Ton's gain."

School Superintendent Terry Ann Carbone said while Stuitje will be missed, "We are a well-oiled machine because of him. We will be able to move on. We're not in desperate shape.

"The Lockport School District is in excellent financial shape, and I'm confident there are other people out there who can come in a serve Lockport well, too."

She said the district will begin its search Friday by sending notices to educational organizations across the state.

"Lockport's a good place to work. We'll locate someone," Carbone said.

Stuitje, 50, said he had checked into the Ken-Ton opening because he believed it "will represent more challenges. I saw it posted, looked into it and decided to submit an application and was selected over the other candidates.

"I have some regrets about leaving. Anytime you make a change it's always with some trepidation. And I do have many friends here and have enjoyed my time here. So there's some regret. But I'm looking forward to a new challenge. When you get to a point in life when an opportunity for change comes around and looks inviting, you do decide to go for it."

He said he was happy with the results of his stay in Lockport. "When I got here, there was some serious building aid problems, and we were able to do a few things to get out of a quagmire."

Tax rate increases also remained low under Stuitje's stewardship, and rates even were cut on occasion.

Before coming to Lockport, Stuitje worked for more than 10 years in the Barker Central School District.

Before that, he had been a teacher in the Albany area.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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