The School Board hired Gregory J. Woytila as superintendent Tuesday night to succeed Vincent J. Vecchiarella, who is retiring effective Sept. 16.
Woytila, currently executive director of educational services for the district, got the job over Susan B. Frey, assistant superintendent of the Depew School District, and more than 18 other candidates who were also interviewed early in the search process.
"I'm very excited," Woytila said. "It's been a real thought-provoking experience. Your life just goes in a direction that sometimes you're steering it, but it also takes you and leads you there itself. It's been emotional."
A native of North Tonawanda, he has 18 years of experience in the district.
Woytila taught third, fourth and fifth grades at Gilmore Elementary School for 14 years, then served as assistant principal of Gilmore and Grant schools for a year before getting his current post.
He was the board's first choice, President Jeffrey M. Glatz said, because of his vast knowledge of what's already happening in the district -- from curriculum to budgeting, including the district's capital project.
"We had hoped that we could have had one or two sitting superintendents," Glatz said, "to use that as a gauge for Mr. Woytila. But [Frey] was a very qualified, capable candidate.
"If nothing else, it solidified what we had in Greg. It wasn't a slam-dunk, but he had a lot of support going in."
Woytila emphasized the importance of letting data guide the board's decisions. He said his first priority as superintendent is to create shared decision-making teams and volunteer forums that can help draft a set of district goals to give the board a sense of direction over the next year.
"Right from the get-go, we want to start opening up that communication again," he said.
On his current agenda is completing all grant-writing for the district before he starts his new job. He also said that he will be involved in the interview process for his successor and that finding the right person will be critical to the board's future success.
Vecchiarella said he would work to ensure a smooth transition for Woytila and the district.
"I know he's the best candidate," Vecchiarella said. "He'll do a good job. I've involved him in all there is to operating a school system."