Longtime education veteran Susan Coston announced her bid this week to run for Merced County Office of Education superintendent of schools in the county's June 8 election.
Coston, 50, serves as the county's assistant superintendent of special education and has done so since 2002. She's a 22-year-veteran of the district.
So far, her only opponent is Merced Union High School District school board trustee Ida Johnson, a position Johnson has held since 2005.
Before that, the Atwater resident worked as a special education teacher and later as a county level administrator of special education programs. She described that job as one that prepared her to represent the needs of all the county's students and teachers.
"I managed a $37 million budget myself," Coston said.
Coston is responsible for the largest department at the county office of education, said Lee Andersen, the county's superintendent of schools. Her staff serves more than 1,000 students with severe or moderate disabilities.
Coston's vision to improve education in the county involves identifying effective educational practices in school districts across the state and adopting those practices, she said.
But Coston said she recognizes the challenges ahead of her with budget cuts, the need to narrow the achievement gap and lower high school dropout rates, as well as to address the escalating violence in Merced County schools.
The new county superintendent of schools will replace Andersen, who has held the position since 2002. He has said he plans to retire after finishing his term.
"She's done an excellent job and she's expanded the program to serve more youngsters," Andersen said. "I consider her to be a very capable administrator."
Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2907 or firstname.lastname@example.org