The Clarence School Board on Monday unanimously, but reluctantly, accepted the resignation of the district's longtime chief administrator, effective at the end of the school year.
Superintendent Thomas G. Coseo was accorded a standing ovation by the board and those in attendance at Monday night's board meeting.
"It's been 20 years of consistence and passion, leadership that has moved this district forward," said board President Michael Lex.
Coseo, choked back emotion as he expressed his own gratitude for the support he has received over the years.
"It's a supportive Board of Education, a supportive faculty and staff [and] a supportive community. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," he said. "As I said in my letter of resignation to Mr. Lex, I couldn't have had more luck. I couldn't have picked a better community to raise our children and practice my profession."
Coseo was named superintendent at Clarence in 1991, after serving as superintendent of Hamilton and Newcomb central school districts. He was a history teacher and coach at Canton Central School District.
He said he wants to pursue other interests and hobbies, and is expecting his first grandchild this year.
"My wife retired a couple years ago. We both have our health, we have some interests we'd like to pursue," he said. "The timing seems right."
In 20 years at Clarence, Coseo has seen it all, including previous tough economic times and midyear cuts in state aid. But the next few years may rival those years.
"I think the financial concerns today are much more serious than they were in some other trying times," he said. "I think the sustainability of public education and all public service for that matter, is really coming under question."
Coseo has presided over the expansion of district programs as the town's population increased. There are 5,100 students in the district, which is about 2,000 more than 20 years ago. He said it was exciting being part of the growth.
"It would be very disappointing to have to lead a period of retrenchment," Coseo said.
Still, Clarence, one of the wealthier districts in the area that gets high marks for student achievement, is in sound condition to weather the difficult economic times. And district residents are supportive of the schools, he said.
Coseo said he will miss his contact with students in the classroom, auditorium or sports fields. He made it a practice to visit the schools on Fridays, he said. "You can immediately see the fruits of your labor," he said. "You can walk into a kindergarten classroom and rejuvenate."
Coseo was an early supporter of the Clarence Nature Center on Sheridan Drive, championed the pre-engineering program, Project Lead the Way, and advocated for a community service component as a graduation requirement.
"He provided outstanding financial leadership and was a source of quiet strength for the community, particularly in the aftermath of Flight 3407 and other tragedies," Lex said.
The Board of Education expects to name a new superintendent by June, with a start date of Aug. 1.
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