Just three weeks into the school year, the Sedona-Oak Creek School District Governing Board meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 23, was full of drama, despite the board being in executive session for about two hours of it.
Reporter Rebekah Wahlberg is working on several stories from the meeting that will be published in our next edition. The biggest news from Wednesday’s meeting, however, is the announcement from Superintendent David Lykins that he will be retiring at the end of the school year.
Parents and taxpayers who have witnessed the debacle of Lykins’ tenure can now breathe a sigh of relief that it is coming to an end. Lykins’ statement isn’t really earth-shattering news as the matter wasn’t in question.
At the May 2 meeting, the board agendized “discussion and possible action” regarding renewal of Lykins’ contract, then met in executive session for about an hour and when they returned, took no action. While officials are prohibited by law from discussing what occurs in executive session, the board members’ decision to not renew Lykins’ contract signaled they had no confidence in their superintendent beyond the end of his contracted term.
Lykins’ announcement merely sets in stone the board’s non-decision three months ago to let his contract expire. His announcement is akin to someone who has been served notice from a judge that a spouse has been granted a divorce, then calls the spouse to say, “Honey, I think we should get a divorce.”
The one thing Lykins’ statement does confirm is that there will be no hail Mary pass in the fourth quarter — to use his parlance — to save his job between now and June 30, when he leaves the district office for the last time. Parents of students at Big Park Community School will forever remember him as the superintendent who tried and failed to close their beloved school.
Taxpayers will remember him as the superintendent who accepted an $18,000 bonus while Sedona teachers were still among the lowest paid teachers in the state, and when pressured by parents and teachers to return the bonus, steadfastly refused time and again to act in the best interest of his staff’s collective good.
Given Lykins’ poor communication — and most often than not, complete lack of communication — with the public in general and this newspaper in particular, Sedona residents likely aren’t sad to see him depart.
After all, we once had to publish an editorial that basically stated, “Have you see this man? Please have him call us,” after he repeatedly refused to call us back to answer questions for stories, a dereliction of his duty we have never experienced from any elected or appointed official in the Verde Valley.
We look forward to the board’s search for a new superintendent over the next year. The superintendent is not simply an administrator who makes sure the bills are paid and the lights stay on, but should be a cheerleader for students, an unabashed defender of teachers and staff, a fiscally responsible advocate for fair salaries and benefits, an expert communicator to the press, public and taxpayers and an inspiring leader.
We sincerely hope the governing board begins the search soon so we can put the Lykins years behind us and make the Sedona district the best possible public educational system we can. Our students deserve nothing less and it is ultimately them whom the board and superintendent must serve best. BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS