The State Board of Education is moving closer to finding a new State Education Commissioner to succeed the late Doctor Kent King, who died in January. Members of the Board will meet on Wednesday, in Jefferson City, to interview finalists for the post.
Jim Morris with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) says a panel charged with finding a successor has presented the names of three finalists to the Board.
"The Board wants someone who is an effective leader," said Morris in an interview with the Missourinet. "Someone who can administer this agency and the budget we’re responsible for, as well as communicate effectively with other policy makers and other school leaders."
The three finalists include Interim Commissioner Doctor Bert Schulte of Columbia, who has served with the Department of Education since 2001; Doctor Chris (Wright) Nicastro of Florissant, who has been Superintendent of the Hazelwood School District in St. Louis County since 2001; and Doctor Dennis Cheek, an educational consultant from Pennsylvania, who currently serves as a senior fellow for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City.
Morris points out there will be no hasty decision made by the Board.
"There will be a little bit of time," said Morris. "The Board has said, from the outset, that it’s their goal to have a candidate selected by July 1. But the Chairman has also made it clear to me that he’s not going to rush the process. And so they’re going to do some additional background checks and other things after the interview. So, there will be at least a little bit of elapsed time before any decision is made."
The effort to find a successor began shortly after the death of Commissioner Kent King on January 9th of this year. He had served for almost nine years as Missouri’s top education official.