Departing superintendent called an asset for Lyndonville district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 November 2021 at 9:55 am

Jason Smith praised for pushing high standards and support for students

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jason Smith, Lyndonville’s district superintendent the past 10 years, is shown in August 2020 before the start of the school year. The desks in the classroom were all spaced at least six feet apart to meet Covid guidelines. Lyndonville was able to offer in-person education all five school days in the 2020-21 school year.

LYNDONVILLE – Jason Smith proved to be an asset to the Lyndonville school district and the community during his 10 years as district superintendent, said Ted Lewis, president of the Board of Education.

Smith is leaving Lyndonville to start as superintendent at the Batavia City School District on Jan. 3. Batavia is Smith’s hometown.

“We’re happy for him and wish him the best in his next chapter,” Lewis said.

Lyndonville will have an interim superintendent while the district searches for Smith’s successor.

“The Board will do our due diligence to pick the right person,” Lewis said.

Lewis has been on the board during Smith’s entire time with Lyndonville. He praised Smith for his connections in the community, for making more opportunities available for Lyndonville students, and for keeping Lyndonville residents aware of what’s happening in the district, especially during the Covid pandemic.

“He is a very likable person who is very responsive to the board and students,” Lewis said.

Smith often meets with student clubs, has lunch with officers and welcomed a student as an ex-offico member of the Board of Education.

He is a member of the Lyndonville Lions Club and Lyndonville Area Foundation, helping to connect those organizations to students and the school district. Foundation funding has supported many programs at the school, including recent grants towards a baby grand piano, relocating the elementary school playground, more than $30,000 annually in scholarships and other academic and literacy initiatives.

Lyndonville has a graduation rate nearly 100 percent, and for many years offered a college readiness program, AVID, to help students enroll in four-year colleges.

Diana Fulcomer, a prevention educator with the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse, is pictured with Jason Smith in this photo from January 2018. Lyndonville increased the presence of prevention educators at the district. Fulcomer in some of her presentations focuses on making healthy choices, which includes getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods and not spending too much time on social media. Smith said he supports the expanded message – coping skills and making good choices. “If the students are having issues with anxiety, we don’t want them turning to substances,” he said.

Smith also pushed to bring outside services into the district to support students, including mental health professionals and prevention specialists from the Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

Lewis praised Smith for leading the district’s efforts to keep students in-person all five days of school in the 2020-21 school year. The district reopened part of the elementary school and was able to reconfigure classrooms and other space to accommodate all students and meet the state guideline of at least 6 feet apart to help prevent the spread of Covid.

In developing that plan, Smith put in “countless hours” working with local health officials and the State Education Department, as well as local stakeholders – teachers, administrators, the Board of Education and other community members, Lewis said.

Smith came to Lyndonville after working as a principal at Albion and Elba. He started his career as a social studies teacher in Albion.

“We saw the potential in him,” Lewis said about Smith when he joined the district a decade ago. “He has always been thorough, conscientious and very communicative to the board, the administrative team and the community.”

Hannah Marker gets some help from Jason Smith in swinging the sledgehammer at a wall to be knocked out as part of the capital project. This photo was taken on Jan. 2, 2019 for a ground-breaking of a $10.7 million project at the district with included creating two new classrooms above the library, putting a new section of a new roof on in 2017 and adding LED lights in the gym.

Smith also pushed forward a $10.7 million capital project in the district, as well as other technology upgrades through the Smart School Bond Act. Those Bond Act funds allowed each student in the district to have a Chromebook laptop.

Lewis said Smith took a hands-on approach to leading the district, and would even fill in at a classroom if a substitute teacher wasn’t available.

The district’s enrollment has been shrinking in recent years, like many of the rural districts in Upstate New York. Smith and Lyndonville school officials worked out an agreement with Medina to have some merged sports teams and also the school musical so those programs would be available at both districts. Lyndonville is teaming with Barker and Roy-Hart in a football program. The team is called the RBL Silverbacks.

“He has really worked hard to increase opportunities for students,” Lewis said.