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Colorado Board of Education formally votes on finalizing new commissioner Wednesday

Susana Cordova selected as the sole finalist for the job in May
Susana Cordova Commissioner of Education.jpg
Posted at 3:32 PM, Jun 14, 2023

The Colorado Board of Education is expected to formally vote Wednesday on its new Commissioner of Education.

Members announced last month the sole finalist for the job is Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova. The board spent two weeks interviewing 23 total applicants.

Katy Anthes has held the position since 2016. Anthes announced in December that she would leave the position in July.

Chalkbeat Colorado reports, "Anthes acknowledged in an interview that the pandemic took a toll — ”I don’t have all the 110% energy that I did before” — and said the arrival of new State Board members makes now a good time for leadership transition."

New members of the state Board of Education were elected in November 2022.

Before becoming the likely new leader of the department, Cordova spent 31 years working for DPS in a variety of roles. She was selected to lead the state’s largest district in 2018. During her more than three decades with the district, she also worked as deputy superintendent, chief schools officer, chief academic officer, and executive director of teaching and learning. She started her career as a bilingual language arts educator.

The Denver Post reported, "during the start of Cordova’s tenure at DPS, in 2019, the city saw its first teachers strike in 25 years as more than 2,600 educators left their posts in a bid for fair pay. Later that year, the school board flipped as members backed by the teachers union gained control."

She left in 2020 for a position in Dallas Independent School District as the Deputy Superintendent of Leading and Learning. Cordova said she was not looking for another opportunity when she was approached for the job in Dallas.

Alex Marrero succeeded Cordova as the DPS superintendent in 2021 where they both made $260,000 a year. That was also the bottom end of the pay range for the Colorado Commissioner of Education position. The top end of that range would be $295,000 while the governor makes around half that at more than $134,000.

Gov. Jared Polis released the following statement on Tuesday regarding Cordova’s appointment as the new Commissioner of Education:

"We are thrilled to welcome Susana Cordova as Colorado’s next Commissioner of Education. Her prior work boosting academic progress and improving access to high-quality education for learners of all backgrounds as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools is sure to benefit students across the state as she brings this passion and experience to this new role. I look forward to working with Susana as a member of my cabinet as we continue to carry forward our bold education priorities. 

I send my sincere gratitude and appreciation to Katy Anthes for her tireless work and close partnership over the years to make sure that every Colorado student has access to a high-quality education and can thrive now and in the future. From her steady leadership throughout the pandemic, helping to make sure that schools stayed open and students had consistent education they could count on, to boosting reading achievement and overseeing the implementation of free full-day kindergarten, the strength of Colorado’s schools and students are a testament to her dedication and expertise.”

Unlike other members of the governor's cabinet department heads who are appointed by Gov. Polis Colorado’s education commissioner is hired by the State Board of Education.

The board is expected to vote on Cordova at 4 p.m. Wednesday during its regular meeting June 14 and June 15.