Losing Lyons leaves BFA lacking

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Losing Lyons leaves BFA lacking

Julia Scott, Assistant Editor

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On Wednesday May 17, a management committee made up of BFA administration, Superintendent Kevin Dirth,  Supervisory Union administrator Joanne Wells, and Collins Perley Sports Center manager David Kimel met to discuss the restructuring of the administrative team’s roles and responsibilities.

12 BFA teachers and staff members will not be returning for the 2018-2019 school year. Most will be replaced in some capacity, be it part time with certain tasks taken over by other teachers, or in shared programming with the Northwest Technical Center.

However, this is not the case for retiring Assistant Principal Geoff Lyons. Lyons’ position will not be filled. The decision is the result of several factors.

“Our enrollments have declined, we’re at about 820 students. So with declining enrollments, theoretically then it doesn’t justify having three assistant principals, which we have,” Principal Chris Mosca said.

In the past 14 years, statewide enrollment has declined by nearly 22 percent according to the Vermont Agency of Education.

With fewer students enrolled, there has also been a push from the State, as well as the MRUSD, for more cost effective measures in public education.

“It will save money and that’s a big piece, a big push coming from the governor. Although school budgets have passed, there’s a lot of desire at least at that level of government to reduce school spending and the biggest expenditure in schools is personnel, so every time there’s retirements or resignations, there’s a desire on the part of our overall district administration to review each position,  determine its necessity, look at if there are other ways in which the instruction or service delivery can be different so that we can be sensitive to taxpayers’ needs,” Mosca said.

Lyons’ role will be divided among the other members of the BFA administrators.

“Everybody has to pick up something… What’s happening here is not unusual. It’s happening in industries all over the world,” Mosca said.

A survey done by Great Britain’s Teacher Network reported that 81% of schools faced budget cuts, while 14% found staff members being made redundant.

“A lot of Mr. Lyons’ duties are going to have to be redistributed. Although we don’t replace the person of the position, we have to look at ways to figure out how we’re going to redesign roles and responsibilities. That’s the biggest thing,” Mosca said.

Lyons retirement will affect not only staff, but students. Lyons often worked closely with students and dealt with student matters.

Lyons roles included “student management (grades ten and eleven), work with facilities, work with athletics, direct supervision for certain departments, and investigation as needed.”

Now these tasks must be carefully reassigned without over burdening staff or disadvantage for students.

“I’ll say this: losing Mr. Lyons is a two-fold matter. One, he did a lot for the school, a lot of the work, took on a lot, so we have to figure out how to do that in a more efficient way, so that’s a challenge. In fairness, we do have a principal and two assistants, even without Mr. Lyons’ position, plus a dean of students, so we have resources to be able to address those things, but there will be a transition,” Mosca said.

Because the change is largely unknown territory for BFA, there is potential for challenges in any new task distribution.

“So I don’t know exactly how it will be affecting kids, obviously, as principal I have to do everything I can to try to make sure that everything works smoothly for kids, but it’s going to be a bit of a transition,” Mosca said.

Beyond the administrative and logistical issues, Lyons retirement will also leave another kind of hole in the BFA community.

Lyons acted as an important student contact in administration. Lyons was consistently willing to hear students’ concerns and often allowed Mercury journalists to interview him for articles.

“The other piece is — the second fold is — Mr. Lyons is a really good guy. People like him and respect him. Kids like him and respect him… He’s been sure a fixture at the school for a while now and the personality will be hard to replace, and the way that he was able to work with kids. His friendliness and devotion to the school was admirable,” Mosca said.

The management committee plans to continue meeting until a solution is reached. As of now, the next meeting has not been scheduled. While no final decisions have been made yet, Mosca is optimistic.

“We’ll come up with something that will be appropriate and will meet the needs of the kids,” Mosca said.