October 23, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- Lorrie McMahon will be stepping down as the superintendent of the Brandon School District at the end of this school year.
The school board accepted McMahon's resignation at their Oct. 21 meeting.
"It's been an honor working with you, you've done a really good job considering," said School Board President Kevin McClellan. "You've been a good figurehead. You will be sorely missed and I wish you the best of luck."
Prior to the meeting, McMahon said she had made the decision this summer and finalized her plan to retire as this school year began.
"I knew it was time," she said. "I am ready to take my next step and not work as hard. It's a challenging job and I want to spend more time with family and also do some of my own learning—read books and travel."
McMahon has spent 25 years in public education. She started her career as a math and science teacher at Lake City High School, where she stayed for 10 years before going to the Ionia School District, where she was curriculum director for nine years. In 2007, she came to Brandon and was executive director of curriculum for a year before the board hired her as superintendent in 2008 to replace Tom Miller.
During her time here, McMahon has faced numerous challenges and criticism as the district, like most others across the state, has dealt with declining student enrollment and thus, plummeting revenue. The district's fund balance has been decreasing every year as well and tough, controversial decisions have been made, including cutting of staff, privatization of custodial services, restructuring of buildings, and most recently a 7.5 percent wage cut for teachers.
McMahon acknowledges her biggest challenge as superintendent here has been finances.
"It's been some of the toughest time to be in public education, but at Brandon, we ride the waves pretty well," she said. "We have a good strong community and a good strong district, we have done a good job of educating the kids… Some of the things that had to be done financially weren't popular, but we stayed in the black with the budget, we've kept student learning as our first and foremost focus."
She noted she and the board have strived to uphold small class sizes in the lower elementary grades, as well as maintain a strong arts program and athletics program, all identified as community priorities. She is proud of expanded opportunities at the high school, including new online classes in the Brandon Virtual School.
Besides McClellan, board members Chris Yuchasz, Diane Salter, and Greg Allar all praised McMahon's efforts at the board meeting.
"Since 2008, you've had to go through budget troubles every year," said Yuchasz. "I look at faces that will be here long after you're gone. People don't realize all you've done."
"A lot of your job is thankless," said Salter. "You've done a lot of positive."
Allar said it has been good to have an educator at the forefront in the district and McMahon is to be commended.
McMahon will stay until her contract ends on June 30. She made her announcement now as it is a good time for the board to start looking for someone to replace her.
"The winter time is the best time for doing a superintendent search and this gives them time to execute the process," she said. "Hopefully by April they will have someone ready to come in if everything goes without a hitch... Brandon is a high quality place and will continue to be."
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville