PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The head of South Dakota’s Department of Education is leaving to become president for one of the state’s top vocational colleges.

Tiffany Sanderson said Wednesday she will start January 1 at Lake Area Tech in Watertown. She succeeds retiring Mike Cartney, who’s been president since 2014.

“Lake Area Tech has demonstrated excellence for many years, and it’s a privilege to be a part of the next chapter,” Sanderson said in a statement from the Watertown school district, which manages the post-secondary school. “I’m excited to lead the nation’s premier technical college.”

In an interview with KELOLAND News, Sanderson said she and her husband, Nathan, will have residences in both Pierre and Watertown after she starts the new job. He is executive director for the South Dakota Retailers Association in Pierre. Their son, Carter, meanwhile lives in Alexandria, Minnesota, where he attends an ice hockey academy.

Sanderson has served as state education secretary for Governor Kristi Noem since December 9, 2020. She replaced Ben Jones, who moved to state historian. Sanderson previously oversaw the four technical schools for the state department.

Sanderson’s current salary is $142,938.79. She said the Watertown contract is in place but she deferred to the school district regarding the amount. Cartney’s 2020 salary was reported at $135,106.

Sanderson said she loved working for Noem and the recent success the department achieved. The Lake Area announcement came two days after Sanderson met with the state Board of Education Standards and the second of the board’s four public hearings on the governor’s proposed content standards for social studies.

Lake Area Technical College has about 2,600 students and is one of four public tech campuses in the state.