FRANKFORT -- The Kentucky Board of Education will move forward with plans to interview four finalists for state education commissioner next week, despite a request from Gov.-elect Steve Beshear to expand the search and delay the hiring.
In addressing the state board during a special meeting yesterday, Beshear said he was concerned about the whole search process, particularly since it took place during a "period of political turmoil in Kentucky" and a "contentious (gubernatorial) campaign (that) no doubt has been a deterrent to finding the best possible candidate."
"I strongly urge you to delay your selection of a new commissioner, hire a competent search firm, cast a net far and wide and seek out additional candidates," Beshear said. "This should not necessarily exclude those currently identified, but should result in a broader qualified pool from which to make your selection." ...
..."This is a difficult position that the board is being placed in," said Janna Vice, a board member from Richmond. "I think we need to honor these four candidates and that we owe it to them to continue considering and interviewing them. One may rise to the top, one may not." ...
...Board Chairman Joe Brothers said that although the board is moving forward with the interviews, it does not mean a new commissioner will be named next week.
"We are going to think about how we can work with the governor-elect through this process and hopefully accommodate what he would like us to do while trying to respect the process and the integrity of what we are trying to do," he said...
..."If they want me to meet with these folks to confirm for them my commitment to the education of the children of this state and my commitment to working with whoever the board selects, certainly I will do so," Beshear said...
...Some board members also said a lack of board leadership was partly to blame, and the former chairman, Keith Travis, was ousted from the position in August.
Travis said yesterday that he agreed with what Beshear said.
"I … think that he was right on with his assessment," Travis said. "I think we need to expand the whole process."
Richard Day, an education instructor at the University of Kentucky and Georgetown College who has blogged frequently about the search, said he is happy Beshear met with the board.
"In the school business, there is a hiring season and this is not it," Day said. "By this time of the year, a lot of the best candidates have committed to other places."
But at least one of the four finalists said yesterday he hopes the process will not be delayed.
"I think it would be a big mistake because that would essentially mean two failed searches in a row," said Draud, adding that he was speaking both as a candidate for the job and a state legislator. "I think it is important for the board to go on and hire someone."
This from the Courier-Journal.