Blue Valley’s superintendent is retiring; school board already chose his successor

Todd E. White became Blue Valley’s superintendent in 2016.
Todd E. White became Blue Valley’s superintendent in 2016. File photo

Blue Valley Superintendent Todd White plans to retire at the end of the 2019-20 school year, the district announced Monday.

And the school board has already chosen his successor.

Tonya Merrigan, who is currently the district’s deputy superintendent, will take the helm on July 1, 2020, board president Cindy Bowling said in an announcement.

Bowling said the board “purposely looked internally for ready talent” using leadership profiles from past superintendent searches.

“Dr. Merrigan has proven herself as a strong leader in every role,” Bowling said. “She is intimately familiar with Blue Valley and has a deep understanding of the goals and dreams we have for students. Without a doubt, she is the right person in the right place at the right time to succeed Dr. White.

Merrigan is a career educator who has worked as a math teacher, high school counselor and assistant principal before serving various administrative roles developing curriculum and student programs for Blue Valley, a district of more than 20,000 students. She has worked in Blue Valley for two decades.

Tonya Merrigan.JPG
Tonya Merrigan Courtesy of Blue Valley Schools

“Being able to serve this community is an honor and a privilege that I do not take lightly,” Merrigan said in a statement. “I look forward to working with our amazing teachers, principals and support staff to provide experiences for each and every student that will prepare them for life.”

It’s not the first time the district has tapped one of its own.

In February 2016, White was named superintendent after the board conducted a national search for a new district leader to replace superintendent Tom Trigg, who left after 11 years. White had joined Blue Valley in 2015 initially as assistant superintendent of administrative services after serving as superintendent for North Kansas City and Harrisonville schools.

During his tenure, White oversaw the development of a technology program that includes equipping students with laptops and tablets, a new partnership with other Johnson County superintendents to develop suicide prevention programs, and initiatives that focus on the “whole child.”

Bowling said White will help Merrigan transition to her new role for the next 17 months.

“I especially want to thank Dr. White for his leadership,” Bowling said. “He empowered our staff to dream big. He helped us redefine student success and put into motion strategic initiatives that will have a direct impact on the lives of students for years to come.”

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Katy Bergen covers Johnson County for The Kansas City Star. She is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.