COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Tens of thousands of students, their parents, and educators are now wondering who the next superintendent of Columbus City Schools will be after Talisa Dixon, superintendent of the state’s largest school district, announced Thursday she would retire at the end of the school year.

“I wish all the happiness in the world for her, was I shocked, absolutely,” said Nicole Carter, a parent of three CCS students.

The announcement came as a surprise to Carter and her children. Dixon has been the district’s superintendent for about three and a half years.

“I’m happy about her leadership, I’ve been able to get a chance to meet her, talk to her, and saw her heart for the community and for the students,” said Carter.

A large part of Dixon’s tenure has taken place during the pandemic. Amid staffing shortages and software issues, one of the biggest challenges currently facing the district is bussing. Julia Applegate said she is not surprised Dixon intends to retire.

“I certainly expect she came in here with very good intentions to help our district, but I don’t feel like we have seen enough progress, enough good progress,” said Applegate. “I feel like what we have mostly are frustrations and disappointments and that’s not what we want as parents, that’s not what our kids deserve.”

Dixon was in the early stages of a new three-year contract when CCS teachers went on strike at the beginning of this school year. It was the first time teachers in the district went on strike in almost 50 years. Regina Fuentes, Columbus Education Association spokesperson, said there’s no bad blood between the union and Dixon. The union is wishing her good luck in the future and Fuentes said it looks forward to work with the Columbus Board of Education on the selection of the next superintendent.

“We want to make sure we get somebody who truly cares about CCS students, who truly cares about moving this district forward, and communicating well with teachers, parents, and has a clear vision for where they want this district to go that we can all get on board with,” said Fuentes.

Parents and students also told NBC4 they want to be involved in the decision making process for the district’s next leader.