Three candidates remain under consideration to become the next superintendent of the Bexley City School District.

After interviewing six candidates March 14 and 15 at the Cassingham Complex, the school board selected Thomas Harwood, Kimberly Miller and Mark Tompkins to move on to the next phase of interviews, to be held April 3-5.

The district received 38 applications from candidates vying to replace current Superintendent Mike Johnson, who will vacate the position in July after 16 years. HYA Executive Search, a Schaumburg, Illinois-based, firm the district hired to conduct the superintendent search, selected six candidates based on input gathered last fall from school board members, district employees, parents, students and residents.

In addition to the three finalists, the candidates HYA selected were Thomas Bailey, assistant superintendent of Three Rivers Local Schools near Cincinnati; Craig Doster, who most recently served as superintendent of Flossmoor School District 161 in Illinois; and Robyne Thompson, superintendent of East Lansing Schools in Michigan. Thompson withdrew from the interview process due to illness, said Melissa Lacroix, board president.

The board also interviewed another candidate not on the HYA list, Andrea Townsend, superintendent of the New Bremen Local Schools in Auglaize County, Ohio.

The board conducted interviews in public meetings March 14 and 15 attended by about 10 to 20 people each night. Attendees filled out feedback forms for board members to consider for each candidate.

"They were so thoughtful in their comments to us," Lacroix said of attendees. "We had a representation of faculty, staff, parents and community members who had no students in the district. We had a student (in attendance) each night."

The board selected Harwood, Miller and Tompkins after deliberating in executive session for more than two hours.

"I thought all six of the candidates had wonderful qualities that could serve us well in our district," Lacroix said. "The top three that we selected, we thought their responses supported child-centered learning. Every child has to feel successful and there are different ways to get there. The (finalists) talked about students. They didn't talk so much about process."

Harwood is deputy superintendent of the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency in Michigan. He has an education doctorate degree in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University, as well as bachelor's and master's degrees in clinical psychology from Western Michigan University.

Miller is chief academic officer for the Dublin City School District. She has a master's degree in educational leadership from Xavier University and a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University. She is pursuing an education doctorate degree from Miami University of Ohio.

Tompkins is superintendent of the Harbor Springs Public Schools in Michigan. He has a master's degree in educational administration from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Albion College. He is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership from WMU.

The board will conduct further interviews with the finalists at public meetings scheduled at 6 p.m. as follows: Tompkins, April 3; Harwood, April 4; and Miller, April 5. The meetings will be held at the Cassingham theater, 326 S. Cassingham Road.

Each candidate will greet community members at a brief reception and then present a plan for what they hope to accomplish in their first 100 days if they are offered the superintendent position.

Board members will go into executive session on April 5 and vote on a finalist. Board members and district representatives will visit the finalist's current school district April 10, 11 or 12, with a final date yet to be determined.

Board members plan to vote on awarding a contract to the finalist at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. April 17.

The new superintendent is scheduled to start Aug. 1.

For more information, visit the district's website, www.Bexleyschools.org.

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