Following numerous hours of interviews and discussions last week, the Whitehall school board narrowed its list of superintendent candidates down to three.

Following numerous hours of interviews and discussions last week, the Whitehall school board narrowed its list of superintendent candidates down to three.

Board members spent eight hours over two nights last week interviewing seven semi-finalists in their search for a new superintendent.

Longtime Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy announced her intentions to retire last year. After more than three decades in education, she told the district it's time to move on to other things.

She's stood at the helm in Whitehall for some 13 years.

Making Whitehall's short list are:

* George J. Joseph, executive director of administrative services for Worthington City Schools;

* Tyrone L. Olverson, director of K-12 Curriculum and Instruction for Licking Heights Local Schools; and

* Richard D. Smith Jr., superintendent of the North Union Local School District.

School board President Walter Armes said board members were impressed by the applicants.

"We had seven super people," he said of those interviewed in the closed-door sessions Feb. 6 and 7. "Everyone had many positives."

Board members were to meet in special session again Wednesday, Feb. 13, one day prior to their regular monthly meeting scheduled for this evening, Feb. 14, to interview the final three one more time.

No formal action is expected to be taken on the position at either meeting though.

Those who did not make the cut following last week's interviews were Ryan McClure, principal at Darby High School in Hilliard; Tara D. Meyerink, superintendent of Buckeye Central Local Schools; Michael Scott Reeves, executive director of secondary academic affairs and extracurricular programs for Westerville City Schools; and Michael B. Staggs, superintendent of the New Boston Local School District.

Whitehall hired the Ohio School Boards Association in 2012 to aid in the search. Kathy LaSota, director of school board services for OSBA, is leading the search.

The district officially launched its search in early December with the hopes of making a final selection by March, giving themselves enough of a cushion to ensure a smooth transition. Dobbert-Meloy plans to stay through the summer during the final phase of the district's construction project.

Even though a number of districts currently are seeking new superintendents in central Ohio, Armes said he was pleased with the pool of candidates Whitehall had to choose from.

"There's a tremendous group who want to be superintendents who have the skills to lead districts on a very positive path," he said following Whitehall's marathon closed-door sessions last week. "We had great candidates to interview."

Board members said they hope that the transition to a new superintendent can be a smooth one, conducted in a non-threatening manner.

The goal is also one of Dobbert-Meloy's, as expressed in her top priorities of the new year.

Board members have said that holding a doctorate is not a requirement for the position, and that previous superintendent's experience is preferred but not required.

Board member differed in their opinion on whether or not teaching and school administrative experience was required. While Armes and board member Blythe Wood said such experience was a must, board members Mike Adkins and Brandon Howard said it was preferred. The board's vice-president, Ronda Howard, said it was not necessary.

Salary, they agreed is negotiable.