San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 26th, 2009
Hays CISD tabs Lyon as superintendent finalist

Hays CISD trustees named Jeremy Lyon as their lone finalist to become the new superintendent.

Executive Editor

The Hays CISD trustees turned away from Texas but towards Texas roots Monday night, when they unanimously approved Jeremy Lyon as their lone finalist to replace Kirk London as superintendent.

Hays trustees opted to pull Lyon away from his present position as superintendent of the Hillsboro School District in Hillsboro, OR, because, among other reasons, his present situation closely matches Hays demography and wealth.

Hays CISD is a property poor school district with a total enrollment of more than 14,000, 55 percent of whom are classified as economically disadvantaged. As of August 2008, the district forecasted enrollment of nearly 19,000 for 2011.

The Hillsboro district, located about 20 miles west of Portland, is the fourth largest school district in Oregon with about 20,000 students. Although Intel and Nike are located within its boundaries, the district is still property poor because, according to Hays CISD officials, school finance laws in Oregon are less rigid in allowing school districts to offer tax incentives.

“He’s done some innovative things with very little money,” Hays CISD Trustees Secretary Joe Munoz said.

The Hays school board began its search a little less than a year ago, when London announced he would retire at the end of this year. London came to a divided Hays CISD in 2003, right after a grass roots campaign defeated a $95 million bond issue. Among the opponents were Hays CISD founding superintendent Moe Johnson and former trustees president Bryce Bales.

London smoothed out the conflicts and Hays CISD has since passed all three school bond votes under his watch for more than $200 million. Meanwhile, Hays CISD grew more than 50 percent, from 9,000 students to more than 14,000 students.

“As all board members have said, we wish we weren’t doing this,” Hays CISD Trustees President Chip DuPont said about replacing London. DuPont added that he expects Lyon to build upon London’s work.

The retiring superintendent said he’s looking forward to hunting and fishing, adding that he has absolutely no interest in joining the pool of retired superintendents who make themselves available when school districts need interim leadership. Nor did London participate in the process of finding his replacement.

“I would not want to influence the board’s choice, and that’s appropriate,” London said. “That’s the most important thing a school board does, is hire a superintendent.”

The school district conducted focus groups last fall in an attempt to profile a superintendent candidate. The board narrowed a list of candidates down to six, then selected two for interviews.

“Our district is uniquely positioned to draw quality candidates with the stability we have built and the community’s interest in the schools,” DuPont said. “The candidates were looking for a district like Hays CISD.”

On naming Lyon as the lone finalist, the Hays CISD trustees now have 21 days to negotiate a contract. At the end of that window, which will come at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 16, the school district can announce Lyon officially as the new superintendent. The school board already has scheduled that meeting.

“I am impressed by the board and administrative team’s planning for enrollment growth and for the support the community has given to the school district,” Lyons said. “These are two assets among many in Hays that are benchmarks of an excellent school district.”

Before running the Hillsboro School District, Lyon served as assistant superintendent and then superintendent of the Coos Bay Public Schools in Oregon from 2000-2004. Up to that point, Lyon was deeply rooted in Texas education.

From 1993-2000, Lyons was assistant principal and then principal at West Ridge Middle School in the Eanes ISD. Before then, he worked as a high school science teacher and coach in Gilmer ISD, La Joya ISD and Leander ISD.

Lyon received his bachelor’s at Texas A&M, his master’s at Texas-Pan American and his doctorate at the University of Texas.

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