MERCED — Top-level administrator George Sziraki has been named superintendent of the Placer Union High School District in Auburn, effective July 1.
Sziraki, now assistant superintendent for educational services and instructional improvement with the Merced Union High School District, will replace retiring Superintendent Dave Horsey. The district has four comprehensive high schools -- Placer High, Del Oro, Colfax and Foresthill -- and has 4,500 students.
"It's a tremendous loss for the school district," MUHSD Superintendent Scott Scambray said. "He has been instrumental in the dramatic rise of student achievement and graduation ratios."
The 51-year-old Sziraki said he is excited about his new position, adding he likely will face some of the same challenges he experienced here. Adoption of Common Core instructional practices, declining enrollment and trying to market the school are issues he will face in Auburn.
Sziraki said his base salary with the Placer district will be $155,000 a year. He was one of 16 applicants for the superintendent's position and one of four finalists for the job.
"MUHSD has been a wonderful place to be a teacher, coach and administrator," Sziraki said. "We're on the cutting edge of being great. I'm excited; there is a lot of good stuff going on and they (MUHSD) will continue to improve."
Trustee William Snyder said Sziraki has done a lot for the school district.
"He's a proactive guy; he's a winner who challenges himself. I admire that competitive spirit," Snyder said.
Scambray said Sziraki's job will be filled, as the role is far too important for the district, given the growth issues it is facing.
Board President Ida Johnson said she is very proud of Sziraki and wishes him well in Auburn.
"We're going to miss him," Johnson said. "I hate to see him go but don't want to hold him back. He has been a big leading force in getting us where we need to be. Our test scores are amazing now and his expectations are high. I am very proud of him and wish him well."
Trustee Dora Crane said she's happy for Sziraki and that he will do well in Auburn.
"It's a loss for the high school district," Crane said. "He has worked hard for the district."
Sziraki has been in his present role since July 2008; he started with the district in July 1991 as a social studies teacher at Atwater High School. From July 1991 until December 2000, he was the head football coach at Atwater High School. The Falcons won five Central Valley Conference championships with three section final appearances and had a 93-29 record under Sziraki.
Sziraki was an associate principal at Buhach Colony High School in Atwater from 2001-04, principal from 2004-08 with the Ceres Unified School District, and served as that district's coordinator of athletics.
Sziraki received his bachelor's degree in social science in 1989 from California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock and his master's degree in educational administration in 1997 from National University in Fresno. He received his doctorate in educational leadership in 2011 from the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.