Tony Sanders to become state superintendent of education
Elgin Area School District chief to replace outgoing Supt. Carmen Ayala
By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
The Illinois State Board of Education announced Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, that Elgin-based School District U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders will become the next state superintendent of education.
Sanders, 53, will succeed Carmen Ayala, who announced in November that she would retire effective Jan. 31. ISBE said Sanders will take over the post in late February while Deputy Education Officer Krish Mohip will serve as interim superintendent during the transition.
Sanders has been superintendent of the Elgin-area district since 2014. It is the second-largest district in Illinois, serving more than 35,000 students across five high schools and nearly 50 elementary and middle schools, according to the most recent state report card. Of those students, 46 percent are classified as low-income, and 39 percent are English language learners.
Gov. JB Pritzker recommended Sanders for the job.
“Dr. Tony Sanders is an extraordinary choice for State Superintendent of Education,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Dr. Sanders’ breadth of experience as superintendent of School District U-46 and his entire background have prepared him to take on this role. His focus on innovation, social emotional development, and academic excellence make him an extraordinary pick.”
According to ISBE, Sanders expanded the Elgin district’s offerings during his time as superintendent, adding full-day kindergarten for all students, expanding the district’s dual language program and establishing an alternative high school, the DREAM Academy, to reduce expulsions and serve students in need of trauma-informed care.
Before becoming U-46 superintendent, Sanders served as the district’s chief of staff for 11 years following a stretch as the district’s chief communications officer.
He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois Springfield, a master’s degree in business administration from the New York Institute of Technology, a Chief School Business Official endorsement from Northern Illinois University and his doctorate in education from Aurora University.
“Dr. Tony Sanders has distinguished himself as a visionary leader and passionate advocate for students and educators,” ISBE Board Chair Steven Isoye said in a news release. “As the superintendent of one of Illinois’ largest school districts, he intimately understands the strengths, the policy history, and the challenges of our public schools.”
Isoye praised Sanders for championing equity, expanding opportunities for students and launching innovative programs at the U-46 district.
“The Board looks forward to his leadership; we are confident he will build on our record-high graduation rates and college and career readiness to continue leading Illinois’ schools in a positive direction,” he said.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide, as well as hundreds of radio and TV stations. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.