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New ed board will get new executive director

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A newly appointed State Board of Education will get to choose its own executive director.

Robert Guffin, the man currently in the position, announced Wednesday that he will retire at the end of May after roughly a year in the position.

That change comes as the board undergoes changes to its makeup. Under a bill Gov. Mike Pence signed into law this month, two of the group’s 11 members will now be appointed by legislative leaders while eight will be appointed by the governor.

Pence used to have 10 appointments. The state superintendent also serves on the board.

The law means some changes in the board’s makeup are almost a certainty – and the new group will have a major decision immediately.

The role of executive director has become a somewhat controversial one since Pence was elected. The Department of Education has traditionally staffed the education board. But after voters gave that office to Democrat Glenda Ritz, the governor created a new agency to serve the board. He later eliminated that agency but lawmakers gave the board wide latitude to set up its own staff.

During Guffin’s tenure, the board has created a new A-F school grading system, partnered with Indianapolis Public Schools on the development of innovation network schools, and developed a new process for partnering with local school districts in the turnaround of chronically failing schools.

He’s a former classroom teacher and principal.

“It has been an honor working to improve the lives of Hoosier students and preparing the next generation of education leaders during my career in our schools and as executive director of the State Board of Education,” Guffin said in a statement. “I am looking forward to beginning the next chapter of my life and enjoying time with my children and grandchildren.”

Lesley Weidenbener is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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