Local school officials are praising Gov. John Kasich's choice of Richard A. Ross to head the Governor's Office of 21st Century Education.

Local school officials are praising Gov. John Kasich's choice of Richard A. Ross to head the Governor's Office of 21st Century Education.

Ross led the Reynoldsburg district for two decades before retiring in 2008. He had been serving as chairman of the Youngstown Academic Distress Committee, a state panel working to improve student performance in the northeastern Ohio district.

He stepped down from that post last week to accept Kasich's appointment. He was scheduled to begin his new job on Feb. 1.

A Reynoldsburg High School graduate, Ross, 61, started his education career as a teacher in the Jonathan Alder school district.

He was superintendent of schools in Bryan, Ohio, and Ottawa-Glandorf Schools in Ottawa, Ohio, before returning to Reynoldsburg in 1988 to be its superintendent.

His successor, Steve Dackin, became superintendent following Ross' departure from Reynoldsburg schools on Dec. 31, 2007.

Dackin said he was thrilled about the appointment and can't think of a better person for the job.

"I think it is a reflection of the good things that have happened in this district for a long time," he said. "Dick was here for 20 years. He was my mentor.

"We share much in the same way of values and our feelings about teaching, learning and education. I'm thrilled for Ohio and I can't think of a better person to help the governor and folks to implement the education-reform plan," he said.

Dackin said Ross laid the groundwork for many of the positive changes that have occurred recently in the Reynoldsburg school district.

"He's got great vision. He's creative, bright, innovative in his thinking - I can't think of very many people who would be better to serve the governor than Dick Ross," Dackin said.

"I give credit to Dick in terms of his vision and what education could be. Reynoldsburg over the years has earned a reputation of high performance at less cost, and that gets people's attention," he said.

Reynoldsburg Board of Education President Andy Swope, now in his 12th year serving on the board, said the appointment shines a light on the district.

"First, we have Steve, who was going to be the apparent next state superintendent, and now we have Dick going to be the state education czar. That shows how highly the state thinks of Reynoldsburg City Schools," Swope said.

"As a board member who's been on the board for 12 years, there's nothing that makes you more proud than having your ex-superintendent go to the state it shows that we're doing some pretty special things in Reynoldsburg," he said.

Also notable, Dackin said, was a former Reynoldsburg board member, Mike Cochran, who left his post in 1999 to serve two terms on the State Board of Education.

"I think the Reynoldsburg schools have created a pretty good narrative," Dackin said. "We're fiscally responsible and we get really good results for our kids. And we find ways to meet the needs of every kid the best we can."

Ross replaces Robert D. Sommers, who is leaving the state post to open an education consulting business.

He joins the administration just before Kasich is expected to unveil a plan for improving primary and secondary education in Ohio.

Ross has not been available for comment.