It’s a new school year at Schalmont. This year that means a new police officer will be patrolling the halls and two new principals will be leading the middle school.
Rotterdam police Detective Patrick Farry started as the Schalmont Central School District’s new school resource officer Tuesday, replacing Detective Richard Kranick, who retired from the Rotterdam Police Department in the spring after serving as the district’s SRO since 1999.
Linda Taylor, the former K-12 principal at Margaretville Central School District, started Tuesday as the new principal at Schalmont Middle School. Scott Ziomek, an elementary school principal in the Johnstown School District, will start Sept. 18 as the middle school’s assistant principal.
The first day of school is today.
Farry, an investigator with the department since 2008, said he is ready to step into the shoes of Kranick, who was the district’s first SRO.
“I had a lot of experience dealing with juveniles through our detective division and our Community Services Unit,” said Farry, 35, who joined the department in 2003.
Superintendent Carol Pallas said Kranick was well-respected in the school community and that it was important for the district to find a fitting replacement when he retired.
“He has a nice personality,” she said of Farry, “and so far has worked well in collaboration with the administration, so I see him stepping well into the role.”
She said having an SRO at Schalmont has been a deterrent of “behavior that gets out of hand.”
“In today’s world, with the concerns and the issues that we see happening with schools, I think we feel much safer knowing that we have an individual such as Patrick on our campus and that he has that presence,” she said.
Farry, who will carry a gun while on-duty at the school, said ensuring the safety and security of the students and staff is his No. 1 priority. Serving as a liaison between the school community and the Police Department is a close second.
Farry also said he hopes to show the students that he’s a “person first and that being a police officer is not your identity.”
“My big thing is being approachable,” he said.
Farry was born and raised in Rotterdam and went to Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady. He earns an annual salary of $84,780 as a Rotterdam police investigator, and 70 percent of his salary and benefits will be paid by the school district under terms of a contract.
At the middle school, Pallas said Taylor and Ziomek bring much-needed leadership. The school saw the state test results of nearly 300 students invalidated last spring after the state Education Department determined that some students saw the questions before taking the math and English exams because they had been included on a local assessment in the fall. The questions came from the previous year’s testing.
Pallas said the district has not received a final report from the state’s investigation, which was supposed to determine who was responsible.
“Certainly leadership is inherent at all schools, and we definitely need it,” she said.
She added, “When you have a transition and a change in leadership, it makes things challenging, but I’m confident that both of these individuals coming in have the experience and the knowledge to be able to step in and continue the progress that’s been made.”
At the principal position, Taylor replaces Nellie Bush, a retired school administrator who served as interim principal at Schalmont Middle School since May following Matt Morgan’s resignation. He resigned for personal reasons, Pallas said.
Pallas said Taylor has been in and out of the middle school the past few weeks, working with Bush to ensure a smooth transition.
Taylor was the K-12 building principal at Margaretville for nearly 10 years and previously taught 15 years in K-12 public and private schools. She said she’s excited to be in a much larger district and also concentrate on middle school, “which I love. It has always been my passion.”
“You either love that level of education or it’s not for you, because it’s a time when children are going through a lot of changes,” she said.
She will also be working closer to her home of 20 years in Saratoga Springs. She lived there on the weekends and lived in Margaretville during the week. She will earn an annual salary of $111,862.
“I’m looking forward to really immersing myself in the community and getting to know all the students and families,” she said.
The new assistant principal, Ziomek, replaces John Gallo, who previously held the position part-time and is now the district’s full-time athletic director.
Ziomek, who turns 33 today, is leaving his job of five years as principal of Warren Street Elementary School. He will earn an annual salary of $84,613.
“[Schalmont has] a good reputation,” said Ziomek, who has lived in Rotterdam with his wife for eight years and has a 2-year-old daughter. “I’m raising a family in Schalmont, and I look forward to the opportunity to be a full part of that community.”