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Columbus Board of Education president says superintendent's retirement announcement was expected

Columbus City Schools superintendent Talisa Dixon
Jay LaPrete
Columbus City Schools superintendent Talisa Dixon speaks during a news conference announcing a new initiative to prepare Columbus City Schools students for careers in science, technology, engineering, art, math and medicine Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

President of the Columbus Board of Education, Jennifer Adair, says the announcement of the retirement of Columbus City Schools Superintendent Talisa Dixon may have surprised some in the community, but not board members.

Adair, in an interview with WOSU, says Dixon had been discussing her desire to retire with the board this year.

Dixon had been with the state's largest district since 2019. Before that, she led the Cleveland-Heights University school district. She also had been an administrator in Columbus at Brookhaven and Columbus Alternative High School. "We're just glad that she has taken the opportunity to really put herself first, and think about what it is that she needs in her life at this very moment,” says Adair. “And we really support this idea to retire."

Adair says the average superintendency right now is 3 to 5 years. She says many school districts are looking for a new leader, including the Cleveland-Heights University district.

Adair describes the superintendent role today as more political. "Really the idea about what is and what does a superintendent need to be is shifted,” says Adair. “And so, we are seeing a lot of retirements. We're seeing a lot of movement across the country in superintendency positions."

Adair says a new superintendent needs to be a true CEO type. "We need to make sure that we have a leader that can not only engage with our families and students, but, you know, with our elected leaders and business community.”

The Columbus Board of Education plans to hire an executive search firm in January to start the hiring process. "The market is challenging,” says Adair. “We might be looking at an innovative type of a person, not a traditional candidate, which might take us a little longer. We really are interested in finding the right person for our district and our community."

Angela Chapman, the district's current chief of transformation and leadership, will assume the duties as interim superintendent on Jan. 1, until a new leader is hired.

Dixon will work as an education administrator until the end of the school year.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.