The Barker School Board opted to promote from within the district Monday by naming Assistant Superintendent Roger J. Klatt to replace Superintendent Steven J. LaRock when he retires June 30.
Klatt, 46, an administrator at Barker for the past seven years, was unanimously appointed superintendent effective July 1 at an annual salary of $125,000.
Board member William F. Smith said Klatt was the logical choice to fill LaRock's shoes. LaRock was Barker's chief educator for the past seven years and hired Klatt shortly after he arrived here following a 31-year stint with the Wilson Central School District.
"I think Roger's going to do a super job. He's been with Barker for a long time and he's worked with the superintendent for the past year as assistant superintendent. So he knows the job inside and out. He's great for the position," Smith said.
Board Vice President James R. Fisher said: "We're ecstatic we've got someone of Roger's background and educational experience. He's just all about the kids and the educational component of that. He's a great guy as well. I think he'll do an outstanding job for us. His focus will be on the education of kids and the quality of that education. That's his strength and background."
Board President Louis J. Mead said: "We've been very pleased with [Klatt]. He's well qualified and really knows the district." He said Klatt was trained to do the job by LaRock.
After spending 15 years as a teacher in the Albion Central School District, Klatt was hired by LaRock to be Barker Middle School principal. When he came here, he moved his family into the Barker community and enrolled his two daughters, Emily and Madeline, in Barker schools. The girls now are 15 and 13.
"I obviously did not have to move to Barker. But shortly after my employment here, I knew this was where I wanted my children to be educated. I have absolutely no regrets. It was a wonderful move to live here. It's a great school district. The teachers and the rest of the staff really take good care of our kids, my own included," Klatt said.
Klatt rose up the Barker administrative ladder. He was a principal for three years, and then served as director of instructional services for 2 1/2 years. Klatt was appointed assistant superintendent after the board approached him 16 months ago and asked if he would consider being the superintendent when LaRock retired.
LaRock said he felt confident he was leaving the district in good hands and that Klatt was knowledgeable about all aspects of district operations.
Klatt said his first obligation as superintendent "will be to see that our students leave Barker schools as competent and competitive as any student from any school system."
"That not only comes from advocating for our students and our programs, but also with a continued challenge to our staff," he said. "Our teaching staff has done a remarkable job in terms of closing the achievement gap between our more-affluent students who traditionally do well [academically] and our less-advantaged students" who are doing much better because of the staff's efforts.