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The State College Area School District has a new superintendent

Head and shoulders shot of Curtis Johnson.
Nabil K. Mark
State College Area School District acting Superintendent Curtis Johnson has been named the new superintendent. Johnson was approved by the board March 13, 2023.

The State College Area School District's acting superintendent, Curtis Johnson, will take the job permanently, becoming the first African-American to lead the district.

The school board voted unanimously Monday night to appoint Johnson. He has been serving as acting superintendent for the past 10 months, after Bob O'Donnell left the position to become superintendent of the Downingtown Area School District.

Board President Jackie Huff said the decision came after a nationwide search and gathering community input. She said Johnson sees each student as a person who has a "unique path through school and beyond."

“His appreciation and support of the individuals who make up the district means that Mr. Johnson will support the flourishing of all students in the SCASD," Huff said.

Johnson has been with the school district for 20 years, including serving as principal of State High before becoming the acting superintendent. He was principal when the district undertook the $140 million State High construction project.

He thanked the board and district for appointing him to the position.

“It’s been a great 20 years, and I would like to continue working in that capacity, moving the district forward to the best of my ability,” Johnson said after the vote.

Johnson served as a principal and administrator at the Reading School District before going to State College. He graduated from Penn State in 1991, earning a degree in communications, and later a master's in education.

Former school board president and current Centre County Commissioner Amber Concepcion also spoke at the meeting, saying Johnson is a student-centered teacher and administrator.

“He’s focused on increasing opportunities for all students, not only establishing new AP courses and International Baccalaureate program courses. But he’s worked tirelessly to ensure that supportive programs exist to ensure that all kids would have access to rigorous courses and could succeed. And that the supports were in place for all kids to succeed," Concepcion said. "High expectations for all, and high support for all.”

The board approved a five-year contract with an annual salary of $210,000. The district has about 6,800 students and 1,900 employees.

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.