Former selectman, School Committee member served from 1972-2005

UPDATED: Charlie Lyons, an institution in Arlington politics since 1972, plans to retire as superintendent at Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica,

Charles H. LyonsCharles H. Lyons

The Lowell Sun reported April 8 that Lyons, superintendent/director of the school since 1987, aims to leave by year's end.

"I was shocked," School Committee Chairman Kenneth Buffum said of Lyons' announcement. "He's been a great superintendent and director. It's difficult to replace him."

By retiring in December, Lyons, 62, said he wanted to give the School Committee enough time to recruit candidates and hire a new superintendent. His contract requires him to give at least four months' notice.

Lyons could leave sooner if a replacement is installed before December.

Lyons was an Arlington selectman from 1981 to 2005 and was known during that period, one that felt the impact of cuts in town and school services from Proposition 2 1/2, for his financial expertise. Elected selectmen chairman five times, he helped devise the five-year plan that supported voters in a 2005 override.

Before he was a selectman, he served on the School Committee. According to his Shawsheen biography, he was the first 18-year-old in the country elected to a town or city position when Arlington voters chose him to the school panel in March 1972. He served on the Arlington School Committee through 1979, elected as chairman in 1977.

"Charlie was a master of turning dreams into possibilities," Paul Schlichtman, a member of the School Committee, wrote April 8. "He saw connections that nobody else could see, he was one of the most strategic thinkers I have ever met. You couldn't be in the same room with him wiithout learning something, and it was always fun.

"Charlie made his hometown a better place to live, and literally made Shawsheen Tech what it is today, one of the most outstanding vocational technical schools in the nation.

"Charlie told the Lowell Sun that, 'I'm not going to the farm and chew on straw, so to speak. I am looking forward to a new adventure.' I have no doubt he is going to continue to do great things, and he is going to have fun doing it."

Lyons comments about retirement

"Life is good," Lyons wrote in response to q request for comment about his retirement.

"Two of my children are getting married in the fall months, and I will be busy with them before the snow reappears and we spend some winter time in Florida.

"I'm exploring life after retirement and hope to provide advice and counsel to others from my experience. Not completely sure but will endeavor to limit my work hours to expose my poor golf habit to others."

Last September, the selectmen honored Lyons by naming the second-floor hearing at Town Hall after him.

He also served as chairman of Arlington’s Affordable Housing Task Force and as chairman of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Task Force on Housing and Land Use. 

Lyons became Shawsheen Tech's superintendent in 1987 after teaching English and other subjects at Minuteman Technical Institute (now Minuteman High School) in

Lexington for 10 years and then serving as the first executive director of Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administration.

The Lowell Sun reported Lyons was humble about his accomplishments as Shawsheen superintendent, saying he did everything with the help of the "tremendous" School Committee and staff. He said Shawsheen students excel in every subject, score high in the state standardized test and 97 percent to 98 percent of them graduate in four years.

In addition, 67 percent of the seniors work in private industry through the school's co-op program, gaining real-life experience while earning money as paid interns, Lyons said, crediting the close relationships the school has built with local businesses over the years.

As many as 300 local professionals serve on the school's various advisory committees, and they help the school ensure its programs are relevant to skills required in the labor market, Lyons said.

He noted that the school at 100 Cook St. is in top shape.

Lyons declined to tell The Sun what his retirement plans are.

Online sources list addresses in Arlington, Methuen and Florida.  He said htold YourArlington moved to Methuen almost four years ago

This report was published Wednesday, April 8, 2015.