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New Maryland State School Superintendent Chosen

May 24th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

Karen B. Salmon, who spent more than 30 years as an Eastern Shore educator, was named Maryland state superintendent of schools, state education officials announced Tuesday.

Salmon, who served as an interim deputy superintendent in the state department of education since last fall, will begin working in the new position on July 1.

"Dr. Salmon knows our state, understands our challenges, and has a track record of developing effective solutions to educational issues through collaboration," state school board President Guffrie M. Smith said in a statement.

After beginning her career as a special education teacher in Caroline County, Salmon moved to an administrative position in Talbot County public schools. She rose to county schools superintendent and remained in the position for a decade. During her time as superintendent in Talbot County, the state school board reversed a decision to suspend two Easton High School lacrosse players. She lives with her husband in Bozman in Talbot County.

"I am committed to collaborating with all of our stakeholders to ensure a world-class education for every Maryland public school student," Salmon said in a statement. "I want to build on Maryland's past accomplishments, streamline programs at the Maryland State Department of Education, and articulate a shared vision for educational excellence."

Following two decades of consistent leadership under Nancy Grasmick, the state superintendent position has had unusually high turnover, with four new superintendents serving over the last five years. The changes in leadership came at a time of great upheaval in education during a period when the state was putting new standards, new tests, and an unpopular new teacher evaluation system in place.

After Grasmick retired in 2011, the job was held for a year by an interim leader before Lillian Lowery, the state superintendent in Delaware, was chosen. Lowery left suddenly in the fall of 2015 with a year left on her contract, to take a job as CEO of FutureReady Columbus, a Ohio non-profit that focused on improving the Columbus school system.

Jack Smith, the number two in the department, has been in charge since then as an interim. He was recently hired as school superintendent by Montgomery County.

The composition of the school board has changed as well. Six members of the 11 member board have been appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan.

"I have always had positive interactions with Dr. Salmon, first as a colleague and currently as a deputy state superintendent. I wish her much success in her new role," said Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance.

Salmon's selection came after a national search for a successor. The school board is in the process of negotiating a contract with her.

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