Ohio names new interim state superintendent of K-12 schools

Chris Woolard has worked at the Ohio Department of Education for 20 years.

The Ohio State Board of Education has appointed Chris Woolard as the next interim superintendent for public instruction in the state, after current interim superintendent Stephanie Siddens announced plans to leave for the deputy superintendent post at Upper Arlington City Schools starting July 1.

Woolard is currently the chief program officer at the Ohio Department of Education. He is responsible for implementing the state report card system and was an agency lead in providing federal COVID-19 relief funds to schools. He has worked at ODE since at least 2003, and has been in his current role since 2014.

He previously served as the Department’s senior executive director for the Center for Performance and Impact, focused on state assessments. He worked on implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the creation of data tools for educators and state-level policy research.

Woolard completed a fellowship with the Harvard Strategic Data Project and has previously received the Data Quality Campaign’s State Data Leader Award for promoting data use to improve student learning and achievement.

“I’m honored to accept this role, and I am committed to working with the State Board of Education to continue advancing the work connected to the agency’s Future Forward Ohio priorities and ensuring a budget that supports Ohio’s students, educators and school communities,” Woolard said. “I am grateful for all Dr. Siddens has done as interim state superintendent and throughout her 17 years at the Ohio Department of Education.”

About a year ago, the Ohio State Board of Education named Steve Dackin as the next state superintendent, but he resigned after only a few weeks on the job after controversy about how he was hired, with accusations of ethics violations.

The last permanent superintendent, Paolo DeMaria, retired in September 2021 after five years on the job.

Woolard received both his Ph.D. and his master’s degree from Miami University and is an adjunct professor at Ohio State University.

His salary will be $202,321.60, or $97.27/hour, until a new superintendent of public instruction is named.

The news comes as the state legislature is debating a bill that would reorganize the Ohio Department of Education into the Department of Education and Workforce. It would transfer most of the powers and duties of the State Board of Education and the superintendent of public instruction into that new department. The state superintendent position would become an adviser to a director of education, who would be appointed by the governor.

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