Rob Saxton, Oregon’s Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, is leaving his post to become the superintendent of the Northwest Regional Education Service District.
His tenure at the Oregon Department of Education will end in June when he will begin his two-year contract with NWRESD. The process for appointing a new Deputy Superintendent will soon be in the hands of Gov. Kate Brown, writes Joce Johnson of the Statesman Journal.
Saxton has been a fixture in the education community for 33 years. Before his post as the state’s deputy superintendent, he served 7 years as superintendent of the Tigard-Tualatin School District. He has also been an adviser to the state Board of Education and a board member for the Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA).
The legislative session of 2011 made the governor the superintendent of schools with the ability to appoint a deputy superintendent who would run the Department of Education. Then Gov. John Kitzhaber selected Saxton as Oregon’s first appointed head of K-12 education in the state.
His students numbered more than a half-million, and his work was to implement education reform by joining with Chief Education Officer Nancy Golden. Their aim was a seamless system for the children of Oregon from birth to higher education. Golden said, in a statement released by the Oregon Education Investment Board, that Saxton provided extraordinary leadership through strategic shifts, made tremendous contributions, collaborated in designing a new system for educator evaluations, and allocated $75 million in investments to improve student outcomes.
“Rob is a powerful champion for students who will be deeply missed in Salem, but I am confident that he will be leading the implementation of much of the work he helped set into motion in his new role,” Golden said in the press release.
Saxton wrote in an email this week that he would be replacing James Sager at NWRESD.
“Last night, the board of the Northwest Regional Education Service District approved a two-year contract hiring me as superintendent there, and I have accepted their offer,” Saxton wrote today. “I look forward to continuing to support our students and schools in this new role, as I have for the past 33 years.”
He will be over 20 school districts in three counties, reports Edward Stratton, writing for The Daily Astorian. The service district provides supports for special education, instruction information technology, professional development, administration, as well as other areas. In 2013, for example, Sager stood in as an interim superintendent for Jewell School District. Saxton will work with the board, staff, and district superintendents to assess strengths within the districts, challenges, and to make suggestions that will assist in the search for a permanent replacement for the superintendent position.
Saxton explains that he has had, over the years, the perspective of a teacher, building administrator, superintendent, and state superintendent. He also noted that there was a real mix of districts in the area where he was once a district superintendent himself. There are small, rural, and remote districts, and large urban districts, and figuring out ways to serve them all is important, particularly from the early learning arena. Even though he has signed a two-year contract, Saxton says:
“I’ll be approaching it both as if I’ll be there forever, and as if I’ll only be there a week. There is lots of work to do to make sure we create things that are sustainable.”
In a letter to his colleagues published in the Statesman Journal, Saxton spoke of ways Oregon educators have worked together to improve the state’s education system:
“We implemented higher standards for every student in our state, we better aligned services from birth through higher education so children receive the supports they need throughout their time in school, we increased our focus on educational equity, provided additional supports to turn around low-achieving schools, launched a number of strategic investments to improve student outcomes, and received relief from federal mandates so that we could build a stronger, home-grown accountability system.”