Ferguson announces retirement as Tallmadge superintendent, will continue as adviser
Summit County's longest tenured school superintendent has announced his resignation.
Tallmadge Superintendent Jeff Ferguson will retire Jan. 31, but will serve as special adviser to the new superintendent through the end of the school year to ensure a smooth transition in an uncertain time.
The Board of Education accepted Ferguson's resignation at their Wednesday meeting, replacing him with current Chief Operations Officer Steve Wood.
"I will miss my time with community members, staff members, and the families and students that we've served here," Ferguson said. "I know there have been tough times, and I'm so thankful for this community. This is a small town and an example that shows public education works."
As a special advisor, Ferguson will remain on his current salary of $133,451 until the end of his contract year. Wood will make $125,111 annually, and his new contract runs through July 31, 2023.
"While Mr. Ferguson's duties will change during the transition period, his full time hours, availability and compensation will not. Because the position of Chief Operations Officer (Mr. Wood's current post) will not be filled during this period, Mr. Ferguson will be assuming, among others, many of the duties of that position during the transition. This will allow the district to facilitate a seamless and effective leadership transition, and to operate both effectively and efficiently," district Treasurer Jeffery W. Hostetler said.
Ferguson's education career spans 34 years, 26 of which have been with Tallmadge. He started his career in Tallmadge first as an English teacher and head football coach.
"Some of my fondest memories include raising my children in our beloved city, teaching and coaching students, the relationships I’ve built with staff and community members, and the time spent with so many great families," he wrote to staff.
He has been superintendent for the past 15 years, and is Summit County's longest serving school superintendent. He is currently in year two of a five-year contract.
While searching for Ferguson's replacement, the board prioritized "stable leadership" and an "orderly transition during the present COVID-19 pandemic" and decided Wood would be the "best choice to take over the role," according to a press release.
"The board was very deliberate in our process of thinking about how we need to replace Jeff, where we need to be 10 years from now, how do we get there, and what's the right type of leadership," Board President Rick Kellar said. "Oh and by the way, we're in the middle of a pandemic."
Ferguson is continuing as superintendent until Jan. 31 to ensure a successful launch of the second semester and will stay with the district in a reduced capacity to assist in the transition.
“We are grateful for Jeff Ferguson’s many years of excellent service as superintendent and are pleased that he will continue to work with us during the transition period,” Kellar said.
Kellar praised Wood for his understanding of Tallmadge and the mission of the school district and called him a "driving force in many of our district’s successes over the past 10 years and he has earned the trust of the staff and community. To have Steve transition into the superintendent’s seat with the support of Jeff Ferguson, is a recipe for success in an otherwise uncertain time.”
Wood is the son of two former high school teachers and was an elected school board member while living in New Jersey. A passion for education brought him to Tallmadge City Schools 10 years ago after a successful 20-year corporate career in business and engineering management.
“It is an honor to be the next Tallmadge City School District superintendent,” Wood said. “It has been a pleasure to work alongside such amazing people at Tallmadge these past 10 years. I look forward to continuing our great work together for the benefit of the students and families of Tallmadge.”
Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, email@example.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.