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Kansas Picks Randy Watson, Local Superintendent, as Next K-12 Chief

The Kansas Board of Education has selected Randy Watson, the superintendent of the McPherson Unified School District 418 in Kansas, to be the next state education commissioner. 

The state school board voted to select Watson on Nov. 13. Watson was among four finalists for the state commissioner's job, along with current Georgia Superintendent John Barge, current interim commissioner Brad Neuenswander, and Gillian Chapman, an associate superintendent for the state's Shawnee Mission district.


Watson has been superintendent of the McPherson district since 1993, after working as a teacher and principal at several schools in the state, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was also picked as a finalist for Kansas Superintendent of the Year for 2015 by the Kansas School Superintendents Association. McPherson has an enrollment of about 2,400 students.

He will succeed Diane DeBacker as the next state education comissioner following Neuenswander as the interim chief. DeBacker left earlier this year to become senior advisor to the Abu Dhabi Education Council's director general. in the United Arab Emirates. CORRECTION: I originally provided an incorrect position for DeBacker at the Abu Dhabi Education Council. 

In a 2013 podcast at the Kansas-based ESSDACK Broadcasting Network, which focuses on K-12 education, Watson talked about how McPherson tracked its students' progress in postsecondary education after leaving the district.

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