Originally published on IdahoEdNews.org on November 10, 2022.
BOISE — State Superintendent-elect Debbie Critchfield is wasting no time in starting to fill her inner circle.
Critchfield announced two top signings on Thursday. Former assistant to the governor, Greg Wilson, will serve as his chief of staff, and Idaho school administrator Ryan Cantrell will serve as the state’s deputy superintendent.
Critchfield made the announcement from Coeur d’Alene. She traveled north from Boise just hours after winning her election to attend the Idaho School Boards Association’s annual convention.
“These are my people,” said the former school board member.
Wilson was also in Coeur d’Alene to meet and greet some of the 500 administrators, superintendents and trustees in attendance.
Critchfield’s first two recruits have experience in state government — and experience in two of the state’s largest school districts and one of Idaho’s most rural districts.
“I am thrilled and honored that Greg and Ryan have agreed to serve Idaho students and schools at the state Department of Education,” Critchfield said in a press release Thursday. “Their proven track record of success, their experience in K-12 politics, and their relationships with key education officials across Idaho will help ensure that we are directed towards our goals and that we will be in able to lead the first day as state superintendent.”
The news came two days after voters elected Critchfield, in one of the biggest landslides of Election Night. Republican Critchfield won nearly 70% of the vote, crushing Democrat Terry Gilbert in an open race for superintendent of public instruction.
In January, Critchfield will succeed two-term state superintendent Sherri Ybarra, who finished third in the GOP primary in May. As superintendent, Critchfield will lead the state Department of Education, one of the state’s largest agencies, with more than 120 full-time positions.
With Thursday’s appointments, the top of Critchfield’s SDE organization chart was finalized.
Wilson has nearly a decade of experience in state government. He served as an education adviser to Governor Brad Little for most of the Governor’s first term – working on educational initiatives such as the Teacher Career Ladder and the Strong Families, Strong Students program, which provided scholarships. studies to families during the pandemic.
Wilson left Little’s staff in January to work for SAS Institute Inc., a North Carolina-based research company. Shortly before Wilson’s departure, SAS was awarded a $3.5 million untendered contract through the state for a K-12 student data management project. .
Wilson left SAS in April, taking a position as director of communications for the West Ada School District, Idaho’s largest district.
Cantrell is district program director for the Idaho Digital Learning Alliance, a statewide online school. Prior to that, Cantrell worked in the Bruneau-Grand View School District from 2014 to 2021 as an elementary school principal, special education director, and ultimately as a district superintendent. He began his career as a special education teacher in Nampa and worked in public and charter schools.
Critchfield, Wilson and Cantrell all served on Little’s K-12 education task force in 2019.
Wilson and Cantrell will lead transition efforts for Critchfield until January. Critchfield will appoint a transition committee in the coming days.