Doyle: School Committee tenure was a ‘fun ride’

Apr 7, 2021 by

Published April 7, 2021

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — It’s the end of an era for School Committeeman Tim Doyle.

Doyle decided against running for a third three-year term in the Town Election on Tuesday, April 13. He previously served four terms on the school board from 2000-2012. After a three-year break, Doyle ran for an open seat on the School Committee in 2015. He was re-elected three years ago.

“It feels good, but it’s bittersweet,” said Doyle in an interview with the Villager. “I put my heart into it and I have given everything I have had for the past 21 years. Moving away from it when it has been a big part of my life is difficult, but it’s time. I am at peace with the change.”

SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBER TIM DOYLE

Doyle has lived in Lynnfield for his entire life. His father, William, served as the superintendent of schools in Saugus for a number of years and his mother, Elisa, worked as a teacher in Saugus. After graduating from Lynnfield High School as a member of the Class of 1991, he enrolled at Fordham University in New York City. He returned home in order to attend law school.

“I was about a year out of law school and I wanted to get involved with politics because it always intrigued me,” said Doyle. “An opportunity came up on the School Committee, and I thought I would be a good fit based on my professional background as an attorney and because my family worked in public education. I had only been out of high school for 10 years at that point, and I thought I would bring a unique perspective and would be able to hit the ground running. If you told me I would still be serving 21 years later, I thought you would be crazy.”

Doyle was elected to the School Committee before he married his wife, Jen, and his two children, Hannah and Colin, were born. He decided against running for a fifth term in 2012, but he continued serving the community as chairman of the School Building Committee that was tasked with overseeing Lynnfield High School’s addition.

“I left the School Committee, transitioned into the Building Committee and we did the addition at the high school,” said Doyle. “After that project was wrapped up, I rejoined the committee in 2015.”

Over the course of Doyle’s 21 years of service to the community, Lynnfield Public Schools earned a reputation for being one of the best districts in the state. The mild-mannered Doyle attributed the district’s success to the hard work put in by both students and educators.

“I have always thought the accomplishments are due to the students, the teachers and the administrators,” said Doyle. “Anything that Lynnfield Public Schools gets recognized for is really their work. I would always advocate for resources. I honestly look at it as a team effort. Whatever good came from it was the work everybody was doing in the buildings.”

Doyle said he “enjoyed the challenges” associated with serving on the School Committee.

“I enjoyed putting a budget together and I enjoyed tried trying to negotiate a contract,” said Doyle. “I enjoyed giving my feedback. I learned early on that if you are honest with people by telling them what they needed to hear and not what they wanted to hear, I could live with myself. And if I got beat up because I was being honest, then I signed up for that. It comes with the territory.”

Doyle recalled that one of the biggest challenges he faced on the School Committee occurred in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis when the School Department was trying to put a budget together.

“After the economy crashed in 2008, the town didn’t have many resources to fund contracts in 2009,” said Doyle. “The School Committee went to the Lynnfield Teachers Association and we were very honest with them that the town didn’t have the money to pay them and they would have to take a zero percent increase for one year. The tradeoff was we weren’t going to lay anybody off. They agreed. To a great extent, that is reflective of the long-term respect between management and employees. It speaks volumes about the teachers that we have in Lynnfield, and what they are willing to do to preserve good academic quality.”

Doyle said the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly difficult and frustrating for the School Committee. He recalled that the committee, Superintendent Kristen Vogel, the Administrative Leadership Team and the LTA worked collaboratively in order to implement the school system’s hybrid model and the full-time in-person learning plan that began on Monday.

“The commissioner of education said only grades K-5 had to be back on April 5,” said Doyle. “Superintendent Vogel set a goal of April 5 for everybody, and we worked diligently to craft language around re-entry to make sure we addressed all of the teachers’ concerns.”

Doyle said the pandemic has been “equally frustrating” to the School Committee as it has been for parents.

“Our obligation is to educate the 2,100 students,” said Doyle. “With the pandemic, our obligation is to keep the students and teachers safe. You have to reconcile that with the guidance that the government is giving you. As much as we all wanted to get the kids back into school as quickly as possible, there were significant limitations. And until those limitations loosened up, we could have crafted the best plan in the world, but we wouldn’t be able to get the kids back into the buildings. I hope the community realizes we weren’t sitting by and not trying to do anything. In early November, we identified an opportunity to perhaps get some students back in on Wednesdays and that fell apart when there was a huge spike after Thanksgiving. We were always looking for opportunities to get the students back in safely. That wasn’t an easy task because we don’t have a ton of room because the schools are not gigantic.”

When asked if he could offer any advice to his successor, Doyle said it’s important to be “truthful with the community.”

“It’s important to take a 50,000-foot-view,” said Doyle. “Don’t focus on what your child is experiencing. Try to rise above that and look at what every child is experiencing because every decision you make will have a ripple impact across the district. I certainly wouldn’t take victory laps when you have successes and to remain humble. It’s important to stay levelheaded.”

Looking forward, Doyle said he will continue focusing on his law practice, Colonna and Doyle, as well as spending time with his family.

“I will definitely miss the interaction with the committee, Kristen and the other administrators,” said Doyle. “It’s been a fun ride and a big part of my life.”

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