Getting to Know Goracke: Learning more about USD 376 new superintendent, budget issues

This year welcomes Sterling High School new superintendent, Jim Goracke to the USD 376 staff, and even though he’s been here for for four months there are many sides to Goracke that many people don’t see in his everyday life, including academics, athletics and experiences growing up.

Goracke went to high school in Haysville, Kan., where he graduated from Campus High School. After high school he attended Wichita State University and majored in computer science, but later decided he wanted to go into teaching so he went to Kansas Newman University where he obtained an elementary education degree.

Goracke ended up back in Haysville where he taught first grade. While he was teaching the principal encouraged him to pursue his masters degree in administration. So Goracke went back to Wichita State University and got a third degree, this one in elementary administration.

After teaching he had taught first grade for nine years, Goracke then decided to look into becoming a principal and after applying at several different schools he ended up as the principal of a small Chanute Elementary School. While he was there a bond issue was passed that combined four elementary schools around the area into one big elementary school, so Goracke went from the principal of 125 students to 900 students.

While in Chanute Goracke went to Pittsburg State University where he obtained his district level certification.

After 12 years at Chanute, Goracke decided it was time to move up again and after looking at a few different school districts he ended up in Unified School District 376.

“I wanted to be the big boss, to be able to impact the full range of students. As a teacher, I had the little bitty kids in first grade and I really liked that and when we opened the big school. My focus was on third, fourth and fifth grade — upper elementary. I thought it would be neat to be with kids all the way through,” Goracke said.

With the transition from a 900 student school to a 526 student school district Goracke has seen several differences in his few short months at Sterling.

“It’s much smaller, but I think with that smallness comes more of a family atmosphere with the staff,” Goracke said, “My wife and I kind of missed that feeling that we had when we were in a small building where you knew everyone and you were close to everyone. That’s one thing that really attracted us out here to Sterling.”

Along with getting used to the differences between schools, Goracke is also having to deal with budget shortfalls.

“Right now my vision is to correct some of the problems we have with the budget and get it so that we have more stable footing. Our facilities and schools are beautiful, but our busses are terribly old and almost dangerous and right now we are rapidly running out of money over the last couple of years,” Goracke said.

In his attempt to make the budget more efficient, Goracke has been looking at other plans in schools that are similar to Sterling while trying to make small cuts to various organizations.

“We’re trying to avoid making cuts that will impact students and to adjust things here and there. We want to try and maintain the neat stuff that we have without ruining anything by having to cut out to much money from any one thing. We’re looking at how to increase funding for next year, our big problem for next year is we’ve lost so many students over the last couple years,” said Goracke.

One way Goracke is trying to increase funding is to find a different way to count CTE students which will increase government funding for the school. He is also talking to JACAM about making it more appealing for out of town employees to enroll their children in the Sterling school district instead of other bigger city school districts.

Even with the difficulties of figuring out the budget Goracke has found joy in being around students.

“In the last couple weeks I’ve started getting out into classrooms again, as a principal I was always with kids and so far I’ve been only with paper and my computer, it’s been really good to get into a classroom and hang out with kids a little bit and talk with teachers more. I think that will be the best part as I get to do that more and more,” said Goracke.

With his hands-on learning in education Goracke has formed a vision for the future of Sterling High School.

“My vision is to move — especially the high school — into a more community based instruction and getting kids out into work study programs, internships and helping make things more real life by getting out into work so they can see how their education is important because it affects what they will be doing later,” Goracke said.


  • Fun Facts
    • Born in Hope Kansas
    • Played football – running back
    • Ran track – jumps & sprints – went to state every year in long jump, won the 5A state track meet junior year – was on a state championship 4X100 team junior year that held the state record for one year – hurdler, 100M 200M
    • Thought about going to Washburn and becoming a lawyer
    • Worked in a law office
    • Work in carpentry