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State Board names Ogden school chief State Superintendent

10/14/2014

During its October 10 meeting, the Utah State Board of Education announced that Ogden City School District Superintendent Brad Smith accepted its offer to be the new Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

According to a Board of Education press release, eight members of the Board voted to extend the offer following several hours of discussion both Thursday night and Friday. Smith accepted the offer Friday afternoon and announced plans to begin work at the Utah State Office of Education in the first week of November.

Smith was appointed superintendent of the Ogden City School District in 2011. He served on the Ogden City School Board from 2007-11 and worked professionally as an attorney for nearly 20 years.

“We are very disappointed the State Board of Education appointed a State Superintendent with no significant classroom teaching experience and little public education administration experience,” wrote UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh in a letter to UEA members. “With so little education knowledge, we anticipate the learning curve for Supt. Smith will be very steep. The UEA hopes and expects to work directly with Supt. Smith, as we have with past superintendents, to help him understand and appreciate the views of classroom teachers.”

Smith’s relationship with teachers in the Ogden School District was a rocky one. The district experienced an exodus of teaches after the Ogden Board refused to negotiate in 2011, giving them a ‘take-it-or-leave’ contract.

Since 2011, however, Smith’s record in working with teachers has evolved significantly. Ogden-Weber UniServ Director Matt Ogle wrote: “I believe Mr. Smith's view of teacher organizations has changed in the (past few) years…We went from having a district-implemented contract in 2011 to very positive contract negotiations this past year. Teachers received all of their lost pay steps…for some, three pay steps equaling more than a $5,000 a year pay increase. Teachers now have a salary schedule where they will always continue to advance and we have solidified more protections for teachers…Plus, we have been very successful in winning grievances that (Smith) has ruled on.”

The UEA engaged members in the state superintendent selection process by asking them to contact State Board of Education members and encourage them to select someone with education experience. Of the four finalist names made public, all had public education administration background.

“I want to thank those who actively engaged with their State Board of Education members,” said Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “Due in large part to our collective voice, the interviews for State Superintendent were held in open meetings, the stakeholders were involved in the semi-finalist interviews and the public weighed in on the issue of the next Superintendent having education experience.

“The UEA will continue to work collaboratively with the new State Superintendent but we will also not lose sight of the fact that teachers need the support of the State School Board and the State Office of Education. Rest assured that we “have your back” and we will continue to be vigilant in the representation of our teacher members,” she said.

The current Utah State Board of Education is very divided. Smith was selected by an 8-7 margin. Many Board votes are determined by the same margin. Board members who voted to extend the offer to Smith included David Crandall, Leslie Castle, Dan Griffiths, Heather Groom, Michael Jensen, Jennifer Johnson, Jefferson Moss and Mark Openshaw. Those who voted against the offer included Dixie Allen, Kim Burningham, Keith Buswell, Barbara Corry, Debra Roberts, David Thomas and Terryl Warner.

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