Following a year of controversies and a perceived split in community confidence over his leadership, Superintendent John Maloy announced his retirement near the end of Monday’s school board meeting.
His retirement takes effect June 30. At about 6:45 p.m., nearly three hours after the start of the meeting, Maloy began reading a statement softly and calmly, then became emotional as he thanked all those who have supported him during his 12 years of service to Aspen’s public schools. As assistant superintendent, he was elevated to the helm of the system in March 2010, succeeding Diana Sirko.
“Leading the Aspen School District has been a wonderful chapter in my career and life,” Maloy said in closing. “I will cherish the memories and hope that the district and students elevate to even greater heights in the future.”
Maloy started by saying he was “proud of the many accomplishments of our students as superintendent and of the many programs and initiatives that have been achieved under my leadership through collaboration with students, parents, teachers, administration and the [board of education].” He then read a long list of the district’s achievements.
In his words, progress under his tenure included expanding social, emotional and mental-health services for students and staff; regularly earning “District of Distinction” honors from the state Department of Education; creating a nationally accredited pre-school; and planning and implementing new playgrounds for the elementary and middle schools.
Maloy also said he made it a priority to support staff and provide the resources needed to be successful “to live and work in this amazing valley.” He noted that district-owned housing doubled from 25 to 50 units; safety and security measures were addressed and implemented on the schools campus; teacher salaries increased an average of $4,585 between 2014 and 2017, a rate he said was 40 percent greater than the national average; teacher turnover was maintained at a lower rate than neighboring districts and the state average; some of the lowest class sizes in the state were realized; and the professional development budget increased significantly, along with opportunities for such development.
He made no mention of the issues that put pressure on his administration and school board members over the last year, including the hiring of — and his subsequent support for — Elizabeth Hodges, who served as the district’s human-resources director despite having a criminal conviction and being disbarred in Missouri following investigations into her unethical practices as an estate attorney.
The disclosure of Hodges’ past was followed by the formation of a group of school parents that complained of a “toxic environment” within the district and the commissioning of a professional “climate and culture study” that suggested a lack of trust and the need for improved communication from senior leaders. In October, the board announced it would not extend Maloy’s three-year rolling contract, a practice it had done annually since he became superintendent, leaving him with a job set to expire in June 2021.
After Maloy spoke, board members Dwayne Romero, Sandra Peirce, Sheila Wills and Suzy Zimet thanked him for his service. Peirce walked over to Maloy and hugged him. Administrators stood up and applauded him, some with tears in their eyes. Board member Susan Marolt was absent from the meeting.
Maloy’s salary for the most recent academic year was $193,000. Romero, the school board president, explained after the meeting that the board’s formal action during the meeting, in a 4-0 vote, accommodates the request for retirement by providing Maloy with $70,000 to meet his threshold for a pension.
In addition, following the official retirement date, Maloy will receive two months of paid health care premiums for him and his family, one additional month of district housing and one month’s use of a vehicle. He also will be paid for unused vacation days and sick days.
A national search will be conducted for a new superintendent; Romero said it will take six to nine months. Assistant Superintendent Tom Heald will serve as interim schools chief in the meantime.
“This is a chance for the district to continue to move forward and a chance for Dr. Maloy to move forward with his life and his family,” Romero said.