Photo: Belmont School District Superintendent John Phelan who announced his retirement as of Fall 2023.
After nearly a decade leading the Belmont School District, Superintendent John Phelan announced his retirement as of fall 2023 during the Belmont School Committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Phelan said he was making the annoucement now to allow the committee time to hire a new leader that will allow that person time to become familiar with personnel and policies. Phelan leaves at the same time as the town opens in September 2023 the new Middle School wing of the $295 million Belmont Middle and High School building.
”I want to say ‘thank you,’” said Meg Moriarity, school committee chair, before the full committee gave Phelan a round of applause.
Hired in December, 2013, Phelan became superintendent on July 1, 2014. Previously the assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Personnel for the Milton Public Schools, Phelan took the helm of the district as Belmont faced possible large budget cuts in schools which was avoided when the town passed a Prop 2 1/2 override in April 2015. Phelan has been working with the town on funding the district to limit layoffs and support education after the town rejected the latest override in April 2021.
Phelan also had a major role in proposing and the planning for the new Belmont Middle and High School which was approved by voters in November 2018.
But it was Phelan’s management of the district during the Covid-19 pandemic which will be his major legacy beginning in March 2020. With the need to shut buildings and start a remote learning model for 4,300 students from scratch, Phelan was the public face of the district decisions which put him under fire from a portion of residents who sought alternative methods to learning. Despite the opposition, Phelan’s ‘safety first’ approach would be the district’s standard.