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Members of the USD 251 Board of Education say the group has narrowed its list of potential superintendents after discussing applications during a closed meeting Monday.

Joined by Kansas Association of School Boards Associate Executive Director Brian Jordan, board members spent the evening examining the resume of 17 applicants, eventually narrowing the group to four candidates, who will be called for individual interviews later this week.

Wednesday, Olpe High School Principal Shane Clark was named as the first candidate.

“The KASB is usually involved with these kinds of searches, and in doing other kinds of research for Kansas schools,” said Board President Matt Horton in a phone interview with The Gazette Tuesday afternoon. “So, it’s very normal for them to be involved, and they just helped us narrow down the candidates in the pool we had last night.”

Horton said fellow board members were optimistic with the amount of interest for the position, especially in a smaller district. In fact, the selection committee focused primarily on candidates with experience in similar-sized districts, but did not shirk away from taking a closer look at individuals in educational fields throughout the state.

“Experience was the biggest factor we looked at,” Horton said. “Obviously, we wanted someone with past superintendent experience, but we also wanted someone who had experience working with smaller, but still diverse, schools. There’s a lot of great background that can be seen in the candidates we selected, I think. It’s a pretty diverse group from different areas of the state that have worked in districts which have gone through some of the same challenges and changes that we have as well.”

Beginning Wednesday, district patrons and staff had the opportunity to meet the superintendent candidates face-to-face — starting with Clark — as each will be available for a brief meet and greet session before their individual interviews. The remaining candidates set to appear will be announced on the morning before each meeting — today, as well as Monday and Wednesday — and meet-and-greets will each begin at 4 p.m. in the USD 251 boardroom. A final meeting on the matter will be held Jan. 30 for a closing review of all applicants.

“It’s going to be an exciting time to be involved, and I would encourage everyone to strongly consider making it out to see the candidates if this is something they care about,” Horton said. “[The process] should move ahead pretty quickly, and I expect to be able to announce our next superintendent sometime in the next 10 or so days.”

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