WARRENTON — The Warrenton-Hammond School Board has chosen Tom Rogozinski, the principal of Warrenton Grade School since 2013, as the school district’s next superintendent.
The school board voted Thursday to hire Rogozinski and begin negotiating his contract. He will replace the retiring Mark Jeffery, 63, who has led the school district since 2011.
Rogozinski, 51, will take over a quickly growing district with a drastically improved academic reputation. Voters in November approved $38.5 million in bonds to buy a new master campus, build a new middle school, ease overcrowding and eventually move all students out of the tsunami inundation zone.
Rogozinski recently earned his credentials to become a superintendent. He was one of eight candidates, including one other from the school district. His promotion leaves a principal vacancy at the grade school, where Robbie Porter and Sean O’Malley serve as vice principals at the elementary and middle school levels. Rod Heyen is principal at Warrenton High School.
“I’m very humbled to have the vote of confidence in the work we’ve done,” Rogozinski said.
He credited his staff with much of the success the grade school has experienced during his tenure. He was brought in to replace Jan Schock, principal for 15 years, and improve academic rigor, while Porter was brought in to improve behavior.
The grade school has since experienced a rapid, sustained growth in enrollment and academic performance.
School board members said that track record played into his selection.
“Out of the applications, his stood out,” said Dan Jackson, a board member. “But then in the interview, we knew he was the one.”
Rogozinski came into his interview with a specific plan to continue improving the school district, said Darlene Warren, a board member. Neal Bond, recently appointed to the school board to replace Stacey Brown, said Rogozinski’s vision for the district aligned with the school board’s.
Rogozinski has shown an ability to think outside the box on education and empower teachers, said Debbie Morrow, the board’s chairwoman.
“Listening to him talk about education, you can see him get really excited about it, his passion for not only seeing students succeed, but for taking challenges and finding a way to engineer success,” said Greg Morrill, a board member.
Rogozinski, originally from Pittsburgh, has 26 years in education. Before Warrenton, he was principal at several K-8 Catholic schools, including Holy Trinity Catholic School in Beaverton and St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic School in Astoria until its closure in 2011. He first became a principal at Gallup Catholic School in New Mexico, where he previously taught algebra and precalculus.
While at Holy Trinity, Rogozinski commuted on weekends to Astoria, where he lives with his partner, Peggy Boisvert, and two stepsons.
Applying to Warrenton, Rogozinski didn’t know if the Catholic background would hurt his candidacy, but he knew Heyen and Jeffery and was convinced to apply, he said. Warrenton at the time was struggling with enrollment, sparse funding during the Great Recession and a lackluster academic reputation.
There were challenges in the way the grade school was being operated, Rogozinski said, but he got a good sense of the team he had in place.
“It wasn’t a job that was by any means doable by one person,” he said of the grade school’s improvement. “But a lot of the framework was in place.”
Rogozinski would have been a great candidate for any number of positions, and he was relieved the school district hired him, Jeffery said.
“Working with him over the past six years, I got to take his measure and really see what he’s capable of,” he said. “I honestly believe that he is the one to help this district get to the next level in this push to be the best district in the state.”