TWIN FALLS — After five years at the helm, Xavier Charter School administrator Gary Moon is stepping down after this school year.
He announced his decision Thursday in a letter to school employees and parents. He wants to spend more time with his family and plans to search for a school principal job.
“I have loved my last five years at XCS and am extremely proud of the progress that we have made and the accomplishments that we have achieved in that time,” Moon wrote, adding he’s leaving on excellent terms with the school board and staff.
His last day is June 30.
“I’m very sad because I think Gary has been an extremely effective administrator and a very great fit for our school,” school board chairwoman Debbi Burr said.
But she said she truly understands Moon’s desire to spend more time with family. It was a conversation Moon had with the school board for a while, Burr said. “I don’t think he made the decision very lightly.”
Xavier’s school board is now searching for a new “head of schools” — essentially, a superintendent and kindergarten through sixth-grade principal. The position will remain open for several weeks and interviews will be conducted by a team of school trustees, lead teachers and faculty members.
Burr said she hopes to have a new administrator in place this spring to have some overlapping time with Moon before his departure.
The public charter school, which opened in 2007, has more than 700 students in kindergarten through 12th grades.
Xavier is also moving toward a new administrative structure for next school year and will hire an additional administrator — a seventh through 12th grade principal. Moon said there’s a possibility he could move into that position.
“My strengths, abilities, and interests lie in being a building principal,” he wrote in the letter to school employees and parents. “I have many years of experience as a building principal and that is the position that I will seek.”
The new Xavier school principal will handle tasks such as teacher evaluations and student discipline to “remove it from the plate of the one and only administrator,” Burr said.
In his letter, Moon writes he has spent more time away from his family over the last few years — including nights, weekends and over vacations — to lead Xavier.
“I am in no way complaining about that, I understand that is what the position calls for,” he wrote. “I am at a point in my life that I do not want the time and relationships with my family to continue to suffer. I have a relatively short period of time with my youngest before he will be out of the house and it is important to me that I get to be there for him as much as possible as I was for my oldest children.”
His job includes being superintendent, principal, as well as overseeing other key areas of the school’s operations, such as federal programs, transportation, and maintenance and grounds.
“The position I have, it’s a lot of responsibility,” Moon told the Times-News on Friday. “You wear a lot of hats…. In a lot of other schools, those are divided out a little bit.”
Even before Moon announced his departure, the school board discussed the need to make a change to the school’s administrative structure as enrollment continues to grow, Burr said.
As he reflected on his time as Xavier administrator, Moon said: “I’m very proud of what we’ve done in five years.” When he arrived at Xavier, the school often made headlines for “not very good, positive things,” he said.
There was a lot of administrative turnover in the school’s early years. And in 2012, the school received a notice of defect from the Idaho Public Charter School Commission for “failure to demonstrate financial soundness.”
The school nearly closed after struggling with high rent costs. But things turned around. The school reached an agreement in February 2013 with its landlord. And in April 2015, the school board finalized a deal to buy the building for $6.5 million.
Now, “we’re financially more sound than we’ve ever been,” Moon said. He also pointed to high student test scores as an achievement. “I’m proud of those things. I feel like we’re in a much better place.”