The state Education Secretary is stepping down early next month to take a job as superintendent of the Allentown School District.

In his five years as secretary, Gerald Zahorchak, 52, has been the driving force behind several initiatives that have directly impacted York County school districts, particularly York City.

* The first new school funding formula in the state in 20 years, which attempts to distribute state funding in a fairer manner.

* The first-ever state funding for full-day kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, the latter in form of Pre-K Counts. York City School District has its own Pre-K Counts program, and all York County school districts have full-day kindergarten for at least some students.

* The Standards Aligned System, which created a standardized set of diagnostic tests and curriculum guides that most districts now use in some form.

* The Keystone Exams, which will be rolled out for the class of 2015. They are a set of tests in a variety of subjects. High schoolers must pass a majority of before graduating.

The Keystone Exams impact won't be known for a few years, but Zahorchak said "the plan for execution is well developed."

Even though the department has several major initiatives, from the exams to Race to the Top federal funding to an update of the Educational Empowerment Act, still up in the air, Zahorchak said he feels confident the work he has done will continue.

"There's never ever a good time to leave," he said.


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"At the end of an administration, it's inevitable that you will have to leave," he added, referring to the end of the Gov. Ed Rendell administration.

At his new post, Zahorchak will oversee 18,300 Allentown students in the state's fourth-largest school district. His resignation as secretary is effective May 7, and then he'll replace retiring Allentown Superintendent Karen Angello on July 1.

Zahorchak formerly was a superintendent for the Greater Johnstown School District.