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Shawsheen Tech Superintendent Announces Retirement

Apr 07, 2015 08:42AM ● By Robert Hayes

Shawsheen Tech Superintendent Charlie Lyons

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story was originally published in the Wilmington Apple.)

-- Charlie Lyons, the longtime Superintendent-Director of the Shawsheen Valley Technical School District, announced last week he plans to retire at the end of 2015.

Lyons notified the Shawsheen Tech School Committee at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 31.

Lyons provided Wilmington Apple with the letter he gave to committee members, addressed to Chair Kenneth Buffum.

Dear Mr. Buffum,

Consistent with my employment contract obligation, I am hereby informing you of my intent to retire at the end of this calendar year, 2015.  I will work with the School Committee to determine the exact date of retirement to ensure a smooth transition as you undertake a search for a new Superintendent-Director for the Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational/Technical School District.

I have had the distinct pleasure serving you as your Superintendent-Director since your decision to hire me in December of 1986.  I leave with a great sense of pride in the reputation our district has acquired, the extraordinary success of our graduates, and the superb professional staff we have assembled.  Our graduation rate is amongst the state's finest, our drop-out rate is one of the lowest, and our daily average attendance - that truly measures how students feel about our faculty and school - is the highest in the Commonwealth.

Our district is in strong financial condition due to the School Committee's financial stewardship, and the support from the our member communities.  Our facilities are in great shape and our vocational and technical programs are blessed with state-of-the-art equipment.  Shawsheen students exhibit the highest growth standards in MCAS performance, and our cooperative education program is the state's best.

I have though long and hard about this decision and this seems the best time for you to conduct this important search.  I would like to thank you, Mr. Buffum, for your guidance and support over the years and all the Committee members, past and present, who always put student interests first, second and third in all deliberations at the policy-making level.  I am excited to initiate a program during the upcoming months to upgrade our athletic grounds, and to work closely with you to ensure a seamless transition.

Very truly yours,

Charles Lyons


Robert Peterson, one of Wilmington's representatives to the Shawsheen Tech School Committee, told Wilmington Apple:

I wish he would reconsider. He is without a doubt the finest superintendent in the Commonwealth. His educational knowledge and financial acumen set him apart from any superintendent I have ever worked with. It is with deep regret, and with much appreciation, that we at Shawsheen accept Charlie's decision to retire. As a committee, we wish him many years of health and happiness in the next phase of his life. Personally, I will be eternally grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him for the last 22 years.

Lyons notified teachers in an emotional address at a staff meeting on Friday, April 3, after students were released early on Good Friday.

"I've had a great career at Shawsheen and look forward to new challenges," Lyons toldWilmington Apple.

Charlie Lyons, now in his 29th year at the helm of the Shawsheen Tech, has developed a stellar reputation in educational and political circles across the state.

According to his bio on the Shawsheen Tech website, Lyons has attained a long list of incredible accomplishments and honors during his career:

  • Mr. Lyons served as President of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators in 1996, and has served on the MAVA Board of Directors since 1988.
  • He is an active member of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS). He serves on the MASS Finance Task Force and its Legislative Committee.  He is also one of two Superintendents representing MASS on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA).
  • In 2005, Mr. Lyons completed 24 years of service on the Arlington Board of Selectmen, being first elected in 1981.  He was elected Chairman of the Board of Selectmen by his colleagues five times.
  • During his tenure he also served as Chairman of the Town of Arlington’s Affordable Housing Task Force, and served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Task Force on Housing and Land Use.
  • Mr. Lyons was the first 18-year-old in the country elected to a town or city position when he was elected to the Arlington School Committee in March of 1972.  He served on the Arlington School Committee through 1979, elected as Board Chairman in 1977.
  • Mr. Lyons was President of the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association in 2000. He served on the Massachusetts Municipal Association Board of Directors from 1986-1990 and again from 1994 to 2005.  He was a member of the Governor’s Local Government Advisory Council from 1994 to 2005.
  • In 1985, the chief elected officers from fifty-three eastern Massachusetts communities elected Mr. Lyons to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) Board of Directors.  This eleven-member board was established by the Massachusetts Legislature to clean up Boston Harbor and ensure safe drinking water to two and a half million citizens in Massachusetts.  Re-elected to the MWRA Board of Directors in 1988 and 1994, he chaired the Personnel Committee, the MWRA Retirement Board, and served on its Finance Committee.   In 1989, he was a key organizer initiating the national Combined Sewer Overflow Partnership, an organization of over 100 municipalities throughout the United States, established to effectively lobby both Congress and the federal Environmental Protection Agency on CSO-related issues.  He served as Secretary to the CSO Partnership from 1989 to 1997.
  • Mr. Lyons was elected President of the National League of Cities in 2004, becoming the first Selectman in the USA to hold this post in the 80 year history of the NLC.  During his tenure as NLC President, Lyons crisscrossed the country advocating on behalf of American cities and towns.
  • Mr. Lyons also served on the NLC Board of Directors and Advisory Council, was a member of the Infrastructure Task Force, and was a vice-chair of the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Policy Committee.  He  chaired the NLC Advisory Council in 1999 coordinating the Advisory Council’s year-long project resulting in the publication of the NLC’s most sought after document:  “Undoing Racism: Fairness and Justice in America’s Cities and Towns”.

Are you a current or former Shawsheen Tech student or staff member?  Are you the parent of a current or former Shawsheen Tech student?  Let us know your thoughts on this huge announcement by commenting below, commenting on our Facebook page, or emailing

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