SALEM — With almost no discussion, the Oregon Education Investment Board on Monday unanimously confirmed Nancy Golden, the former longtime Springfield schools superintendent, as the state’s interim education chief.
Golden will take the job for up to six months, starting Aug. 1. She will replace Rudy Crew, who is leaving after a year for a position at a university in New York City. The board also agreed Monday to allow Crew to be let out of a clause in his contract that could have required him to keep working until the end of July.
In the wake of Crew’s abrupt departure, long-term plans for the post are still in flux. Golden said Monday that she wouldn’t rule out eventually applying for the permanent job, but added that she is focused on “trying to do the best I can” for the next six months.
“At the end of that period, I’ll reassess,” she said.
“If I’m not ultimately the best person for the job, the children deserve the person who is,” she added.
For the duration of the interim appointment, Golden will earn $16,250 a month — equivalent to an annual salary of $195,000. Crew was earning $280,000 a year.
The education chief position, created by legislative reforms in 2011 and 2012, oversees Oregon’s entire public education system, from preschool to college. That includes leading 197 school districts, 19 education service districts, 17 community college districts, seven universities and education programs at Oregon Health & Science University.
The position was created as part of statewide efforts led by Gov. John Kitzhaber to reform education with a more centralized system, focused on dramatically increasing the number of students who graduate from high school and who earn a college credential or degree. Golden has been involved in those efforts, first as Kitzhaber’s education adviser in 2011, and more recently as Kitzhaber’s alternate as chair of the Oregon Education Investment Board.
Kitzhaber told the board Monday that the education reform agenda “doesn’t depend on one person.”
“We’re very well-poised to take the next step forward” with the reforms, he said.
Julia Brim-Edwards, a board member who chaired the subcommittee that recommended Golden’s appointment, said Golden’s mix of experience as a teacher and administrator, and who has worked on the statewide education reforms, made her “the right match at this time.”
Golden, 62, said she’s “jazzed” about the official appointment. She said one of her primary focuses over the next six months will be on helping developing so-called “regional achievement compacts” — blueprint agreements at the local level between public schools, nonprofit organizations and other entities designed to improve student learning and performance.
“It’s all about getting people excited about and working toward certain goals,” she said.
Golden, whose decade-long tenure as Springfield School District superintendent ended last week, said she plans to continue living in Springfield for the time being.