Tony Wood approved as state education commissioner

LITTLE ROCK — The state Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved Tony Wood as the next state education commissioner.

Gov. Mike Beebe had recommended Wood, currently deputy commissioner of education, for the position. The commissioner is appointed by the board but serves at the pleasure of the governor.

Wood will replace Tom Kimbrell, who has accepted the position of superintendent of the Bryant School District. Wood will take over the job on July 1.

Beebe is prevented by term limits from seeking a third term. Whether Wood can continue to serve after Beebe leaves office will be up to the governor who takes office in January.

The board approved Wood for the job during its regular monthly meeting with no public discussion, after meeting in executive session during lunch. Members of the audience burst into applause after the vote.

“Tony Wood is clearly a good choice to be our next commissioner of education,” Beebe said in a statement. “He has always put the needs of students first throughout his academic career, and Tony has carried that philosophy statewide while serving Arkansas as deputy commissioner.”

Education Board Chairman Brenda Gullett said in a statement, “While transition is never simple, I cannot imagine being more confident in the leadership of the department and the future of education in Arkansas. Tony Wood is an exceptional leader and will be an exceptional commissioner.”

Wood said, “I am very honored to be chosen by Gov. Mike Beebe and the state Board of Education to serve as Arkansas’ next commissioner of education. Preparing Arkansas students for college and careers will continue to be the highest priority for the agency.”

Wood began his education career as a chemistry and biology teacher in the Beedeville School District. He later taught math and chemistry at Judsonia before becoming principal and later superintendent at the Kensett School District, where he worked for 14 years.

Wood went on to serve as deputy superintendent of the Little Rock School District and later as superintendent of the Searcy School District, a position he held for 18 years.

Wood has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Harding University at Searcy. He obtained his administrator certification from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.