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Leechburg Area superintendent takes Mars job

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 7:24 a.m.

Leechburg Area Superintendent Jim Budzilek said on Sunday that he is leaving the district to accept a position as superintendent at the Mars Area School District.

Mars Area school directors will vote to hire Budzilek on Tuesday, according to an announcement on the district's website identifying him as the final candidate in that district's search for a superintendent.

With about 3,200 students, Mars Area has about four times as many students as Leechburg Area. Mars Area serves the southern Butler County communities of Mars, Valencia, Adams and Middlesex.

“It's a tremendous school district with a tremendous opportunity. I'm just looking for a change, and I think it's going to be a very positive change for me and everybody else,” Budzilek said. “I'm ready for a new chapter, a new challenge.”

Budzilek's departure from Leechburg Area will be discussed at that district's school board work session meeting on Wednesday. The board will vote on accepting his resignation on May 15.

At Mars Area, Budzilek would replace William Pettigrew, who is retiring in December after 26 years. Pettigrew announced his retirement in December 2012.

In January, Mars Area hired Victor Morrone of Middlesex, a retired superintendent, as a search consultant. More than 600 staff and residents took a survey about the qualities wanted in a new superintendent.

If approved Tuesday, Budzilek would join Mars Area in August as assistant superintendent/superintendent designate. He would officially assume the superintendent title in December.

A Leechburg Area graduate, Budzilek has 25 years of public education experience, including nine years as superintendent of the district.

He had resigned before, in 2011, but was talked into staying.

If he is hired by Mars Area, Budzilek, his wife, Cassie, and their son, Adam, 5, would relocate there, the district said.

Budzilek remains proud of Leechburg Area.

“With limited resources, we did a lot of good things with the staff and the school community,” he said. “I'm ready for the next step in my educational career.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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