WORCESTER _ Cooperstown High School Principal Gary Kuch was hired as Worcester Central School superintendent by the school board Wednesday night.

Kuch, 54, who will begin Jan. 2, was principal for 10 years. He will succeed John Selover, who resigned from Worcester in January.

``It's been a great 10 years, and I will miss the students and the strength of the school,'' Kuch said.

He said he wasn't looking to get out of Cooperstown, but when the opportunity at Worcester came along, he thought it might be time for a change.

Worcester is less than half the size of Cooperstown, with fewer than 500 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

In his new job, Kuch's duties will grow beyond those of a principal to being responsible for the district's K-12 operations. He said he will begin his duties during an interesting and challenging time in Worcester, where residents recently approved a $32 million capital project for the district.

The project calls for an addition and improvements to the district's building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Kuch said he will continue to live in Cooperstown and commute the 16 miles to Worcester, but he plans to become more and more involved in his new school community. Before coming to Cooperstown, Kuch served for nine years at the Otsego Area Occupational Center in Milford.

Cooperstown Superintendent Mary Jo McPhail said, ``Gary has brought a lot to our district. He has been a champion and mentor for our young people, and his interpersonal skills and knowledge of the community have been a tremendous asset.

"Our loss will be Worcester's gain," she continued. "We wish him the best, and I will do all I can personally and professionally to support him in his transition.''

Because Kuch is leaving midyear, the school board may develop a short-term solution while looking at a long-term recommendation for Kuch's replacement, McPhail said.

She indicated one thing the board will be looking at is the possibility of restructuring the district's administrative staff, but added that no decision would be made without careful study.

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