Longtime employee named new Granite School District superintendent

SALT LAKE CITY — Board members said an emotional farewell Tuesday in the Granite School District boardroom to former Superintendent Richard Nye, who was recently appointed as a senior education adviser in Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s administration.

“Dr. Nye, thank you. Thank you for instilling excellence, kindness and high expectations at all levels of our district and board, thank you for hiring such a great person to do the job,” said Michell Jones, president of the Granite Education Association.

Replacing Nye as superintendent (something board members said was important both literally and figuratively) will be Ben Horsley.

Horsley has worked in the district for more than 15 years and most recently served as Nye’s chief of staff for the past three years. Prior to that, Horsley worked as the district’s director of communications and community outreach.

“We believe Dr. Nye has put us on a good path and we want to continue to do so,” said Nicole McDermott, board president. “I would not make this decision if I felt it jeopardized the education of my own children or the thousands of children we are responsible for, so I want to express my support for Mr. Horsley to continue to lead the district on the path we are on.”

Horsley was appointed unanimously, with board member Kim Chandler abstaining from voting, citing her disagreement with “the lack of a search process for a new superintendent and the ability through that process to interview a variety of candidates for the position.”

Chandler added that he believes Horsley has done a “very good” job of fulfilling the requirements of his current role as chief of staff, and if it were a “business decision,” Horsley’s performance would be a determining factor.

“As a board member, this decision is not a business decision. Rather, it is a vital matter of selecting someone who I believe best represents the values ​​and ideals I pledged to represent when I ran for this office, and as such, it is incumbent upon me to vote that way,” Chandler said.

A district statement said Horsley was a top candidate in its superintendent search three years ago, and went on to say he is “uniquely qualified to take on this role and serve as superintendent at this time.”

Ben Horsley speaks with Jessica Dunn, executive director of the Granite Education Association, after being named the new superintendent of the Granite School District Board of Education during a special session in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. (Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

For Horsley, the appointment is the culmination of many years of working with and collaborating with previous superintendents. Horsley said he is eager to begin building on the groundwork laid by Nye.

“It’s a little bit of a ‘moving on,’ but I look forward to being able to get out into our schools and listen and understand what other outstanding concerns there may be,” Horsley said. “I recognize that the only way to help our students be successful is to make sure our teachers have all the resources they need. I want to get out and be in our classrooms as much as possible and listen to their concerns, hear what they have to say and talk to our parents, listen to their concerns and make sure that the Granite School District is their best choice.”

Horsley’s appointment will take effect July 27, which is Nye’s last day in the district.

“I look forward to seeing the continued success of our students and schools in the years ahead under the leadership of Superintendent Horsley and the commitment and dedication of this board and the employees of the Granite School District,” Nye said.