Washington Township’s longtime superintendent Nikki Woodson to retire in 2025

Woman  in a white shirt
Washington Township Schools Superintendent Nikki Woodson speaks during a video update about COVID-19 school closures in April 2020. Woodson announced that she will retire from her position in 2025. (Screenshot from MSD Washington Township Schools video)

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This article was originally published by WFYI.

Nikki Woodson, the longtime superintendent of Washington Township Schools, announced she will retire from the district at the end of the 2024-2025 academic year.

Woodson has led the district for 13 years, a period of increased racial diversity in the student body and also enrollment fluctuations. Last year’s graduation rate was nearly 85 percent for students who did not receive a waiver from a requirement, and 91 percent for all students who earned a diploma.

Woodson also oversaw more than a dozen construction projects to improve and rebuild facilities for students. This was possible due to the passage of two capital referendums, including the largest in state history, which paid for a new middle school, early learning center, athletic upgrades and more.

“During this time, the district has transformed by overcoming complexities and challenges, embracing increased diversity of our students, raising achievement resulting in a double-digit increase in graduation rate, successfully passing two major referendum campaigns and the deployment of their plans, as well as guiding the school community through a global pandemic,” Woodson said in a statement Friday.

Woodson joined the district in 2009. In 2011 she was the assistant superintendent when the school board appointed her as the district leader, making her the first Black woman superintendent in Marion County.

Woodson’s 2023 salary was $225,348 and her total compensation was $390,457, according to state data. Her last day at the district is June 30, 2025.

The school board will start a search process to pick the next superintendent and announce the finalist this fall, according to a district statement.

When Woodson became superintendent, enrollment was at 11,155 students. This year, the northside district enrolls around 10,700 students. According to state data: 40 percent of students are Black, 28 percent are White, 22 percent are Hispanic, and 51 percent identify as low-income.

The district faces ongoing concern over the academic achievement of students of color. Only 9.8 percent of Black students and 10.4 percent of Hispanic students in grades 3-8 passed both the math and English Language Arts portion of the 2023 state exam — compared to nearly 57 percent of their White classmates.

These inequities became a focus in the fight over an all-girls charter school opening in the township. The charter operators argued they could offer a higher quality education than what is available in Washington Township for economically disadvantaged and Black students. District leaders sought to block the school but final approval was given by the City-County Council.

Woodson plans to focus on “equitable achievement,” among other issues, during her final year, the district statement said.

Woodson also led two referendum campaigns that won strong support from local voters.

In 2020, voters approved a $285 million construction referendum and an eight-year $128 million operating referendum. In 2016, voters also supported two district referendums. The local property tax increase supported teacher pay and the cost of major facilities, such as the new Northview Middle School, a fieldhouse at North Central High School, and an Early Learning Center.

“The board understands that this is a critical position that will shape the future vision of WTS,” Deirdre George Davis, school board president, said in a statement. “Equally important to the selection process will be a transition between Dr. Woodson and her successor. We will develop a strategic timeline so that district operations and focus on equitable achievement remain uninterrupted.”

The district’s last day for students to attend class this academic year is May 23.

Eric Weddle is the WFYI education editor. Contact Eric at eweddle@wfyi.org

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