In a surprise move, Hamtramck Public Schools Superintendent Tom Niczay announced last week that he will retire at the end of the upcoming school year.
It is going to be a hard job to replace him.
Niczay was appointed to his position 10 years ago after the district went through several rocky years with one failed superintendent after another.
Niczay brought political stability, and later when faced with a huge financial crisis, he and his administration – as well as a unified school board – rose to the challenge.
They erased a $5 million budget deficit and created an $8 million budget surplus.
Niczay also put together an aggressive campaign to win back students who were lured away by local charter schools looking to make a fast buck under the state’s short-sighted charter school law.
Niczay just recently added another victory for the district – and the city. He forged a relationship with the Detroit City Football Club that led to it relocating its home games here in historic Keyworth Stadium.
The team has spent a huge amount of money to renovate the stadium, which was built during the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration.
That 1930s program, created under the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression, put thousands of desperately unemployed folks to work in an effort to kick-start the national economy.
The Football Club has had a similar effect here. Home games attract about 7,000 fans who after the games spread out to our local bars and restaurants and give them a financial boost.
Niczay has also networked with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, which has contributed millions of dollars to communities to get kids to become more physically active.
It is very likely that Hamtramck will be the recipient of a generous grant, thanks to Niczay’s work and his teaming up with city officials to present a united community.
We wish Niczay will reconsider stepping down in the coming year. He is turning 65 this year, and yes, it’s an age when many do retire. He deserves a long, healthy retirement.
Hamtramck, though, may never be the same again.
Thanks, Tom, for your service and dedication.