March 28, 2012 - Goodrich- Just moments after the school board unanimously approved renewing Superintendent John Fazer's contract for one year, board members opened envelopes containing Fazer's resignation letter.
Fazer (click for larger version)
Fazer read aloud his letter during the March 26 board meeting, citing challenges existing at the time of his arrival here nearly three years ago, and accomplishments since that time, including resolving six lawsuits, new labor contracts, revamping special education to meet federal mandates, and alignment of K-12 curriculum.
He ended the letter by thanking the board for the contract renewal.
"It is a pleasure and honor to serve the district and to work with each of you," Fazer read. "However, at this point in time, I am requesting to be released from my contract. I am offering my resignation effective June 30, 2012. I plan on pursuing retirement options and other career opportunities."
Following this announcement, the room was silent.Without any discussion or comment, the board voted 6-1 to accept Fazer's resignation. Board President Tim Zirnhelt voted no.
"He talked about retirement and we didn't take him seriously," said a stunned Zirnhelt. "This is a shock. He's done a fine job for the district. We'll miss him, he's done a nice job."
At the end of the meeting, each of the school board members were offered the opportunity to speak. Several spoke on other topics raised at the meeting, including a new bullying policy adopted, MEAP test scores, and a proposed Eagle Scout project. Some of the boardmembers also chose to thank Fazer for the work he has done in the district.
"Thank you for the guidance you have provided to us and the district," said Board Secretary Doug Tetmeyer.
Trustee Jeff Gardner also thanked Fazer, noting that it's not an easy time to be a superintendent in the state of Michigan, and Board Vice-President Linda Jackson thanked Fazer in particular for his work in turning special education around in the district.
The school board unanimously hired Fazer in May 2009 to take over for Interim Superintendent Larry Allen. Fazer had been the superintendent of Holton Public Schools since 2005.
Following the board meeting, Fazer explained his decision to resign by saying, "I always told myself that if I woke up one day and decided it was time to retire, I would. A few weeks back, I woke up like that."
He said he loves education and what has been accomplished in the district by the efforts of many, but noted it has been an uphill battle for the past decade. This is his third superintendent position, and in each, he has had the challenge of turning them around financially, which he said, "wears on you."
While he is retiring as superintendent, Fazer may pursue a position in curriculum or instruction with another district, or follow his interest in investments and the stock market.
Zirnhelt said the board will immediately begin a search for a new superintendent.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville