Bayfield Superintendent Troy Zabel is retiring effective June 30, the Bayfield School Board announced last week.
In June, Zabel said he had brain cancer and cut back on his administrative duties. District Finance Director Amy Lyons stepped in to cover some of his workload.
“While Mr. Zabel has decided that health issues will not allow him to continue to serve the district in the very demanding full-time superintendent position, we are excited to have him continue to serve the district as a part- time liaison,” Board President Tim Stumpf wrote in a letter from the board. The board plans to hire an interim superintendent and will begin the process of hiring a permanent replacement in early 2018.
Bayfield school staff organized a get-well party and fundraiser for Zabel in October, and he was the honorary assistant coach of the Bayfield High School volleyball team for the Oct. 18 game, which was labeled “Zabel Strong.” The girls took the Intermountain League volleyball title from Alamosa that night.
During his six years in Bayfield, the district built the Bayfield Performing Arts Center and baseball field at BHS. In November, district voters passed a $28.7 million bond issue to build a new elementary school for third through fifth grades, as well as renovate the current Bayfield Elementary School into a K-2 building.
A ceremonial groundbreaking for the construction projects will be held at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday at BES.
Zabel is described as a “visionary.”
“He had the best vision for education of any superintendent I’ve seen,” said Leon Handardt, principal at BHS. “His leadership and focusing on building relationships was second to none.”
It will be tough for the district to find as good a leader, he added. “His focus every day was what’s best for students. He had a passion for Bayfield and students in Bayfield.”
Added Stumpf: “Mr. Zabel has been an incredible leader in the district, and we would like to express our deepest appreciation for everything that he has done for our district, our students and our community as superintendent for the past six years,” Stumpf wrote.
“Thanks in large part to Mr. Zabel’s leadership, the district is well positioned with a very strong staff at the teacher, administrative, and support levels. The Board of Education intends to see that the education of our students remains our foremost priority and we wish to reassure all students, parents, staff, and community members that we will work diligently through these challenges.” The letter was signed by Stumpf and board trustees Carol Blatnick, Janie Hoover, Daniele Hillyer and Mike Foutz.
File photo by Joel Priest