The Pickerington Board of Education has winnowed its list of candidates to become the district's next superintendent from 12 to four.

The Pickerington Board of Education has winnowed its list of candidates to become the district's next superintendent from 12 to four.

Al Meloy, a consultant hired by the board to assist it in its search for a full-time superintendent, confirmed on Tuesday, Jan. 31, that James Grube, C. Scott Howard, Jeff Patrick and Jim Sotlar are the final candidates still in the running to lead the Pickerington Local School District.

It's unclear when the board might make a final decision on the next superintendent. Last week, board President Lori Sanders said members had held two private sessions and hoped to screen up to seven candidates during an initial round of three interviews.

At that time, Sanders noted the board might not be able to interview all seven, because some candidates might withdraw.

Sanders could not be reached for comment regarding the ongoing process on Jan. 31, prior to ThisWeek's press time.

On Tuesday morning, Sanders in an email identified four remaining candidates and said the selection process was ongoing.

"As with any personnel matters regarding a current or potential employee of the board, we ask that you respect the confidentiality of the search process," she said in her email.

Of the remaining four, Sotlar is the lone in-house candidate. He is the district's assistant superintendent and took over as interim superintendent after Karen Mantia left in August to become superintendent for Lakota Local Schools near Cincinnati.

According to information provided by the board, the three remaining candidates currently are lead administrators at Ohio school districts.

Grube is superintendent of the Buckeye Valley Local School District in Delaware County. Howard is superintendent of the Chesapeake Exempted Village School System in Lawrence County and Patrick is superintendent of the Bradford Exempted School District in Darke County.

Last week, Sanders said board members hadn't decided if they would hold a second round of interviews for candidates before naming Mantia's full-time successor.

She and Meloy both said the board is in no rush and would take its time to properly vet candidates.

"They are being very deliberate, frankly," Meloy said. "They have an interim in place. They're in a great position because they don't have to rush to a conclusion."

At the time of Mantia's departure, she made $144,000 annually, plus an additional $63,492 in benefits.

Sotlar's current annual salary is $109,434, and he is being paid an additional $2,000 a month for his role as interim superintendent.

Last November, Meloy said the district has until Aug. 1, the start of the contract year for the 2012-13 school year, to make a hire.

Sanders said last week she hoped to have a new superintendent prior to that, but didn't have a timetable for a decision.

"We hope we're not still doing this in August, ... but we're not under a time limit," she said. "We want to make sure we're being thorough."