CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The State Board of Education has decided to conduct a national search for a permanent director to oversee the Wyoming Department of Education.
Gov. Matt Mead suggested that the board "move with urgency" during a special meeting Monday morning.
Board members plan to prepare a bid for proposal to select the search firm by their next meeting, Monday, when they will further discuss the process.
Mead told the board at the start of the meeting that a national search was his preference because it demonstrates a complete, competitive process. He said there was a cost to the process, but allowing public perception that the process wasn't complete would be of greater cost.
On Jan. 29, Mead signed into a law Senate File 104, which removed State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill as administrator of the department and replaced her with a director appointed by the governor. The board is required to compile a list of three candidates from which Mead will choose by Dec. 1.
Mead didn’t set a timeline for the board to bring him the names, but spokesman Renny MacKay said the board and the governor plan to get a director in place much sooner if possible.
The priority is, Mead said, “whatever process, whatever time is needed to get three excellent candidates."
Mead said he preferred to hire Wyoming talent. He also said he would prefer that finalists' names be made public.
Hill is a nonvoting member of the Board of Education, as per the new law. She wasn't present when Mead spoke to the board.
Jim Rose, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, is serving as interim director of the education department.
Mary Kay Hill is Mead's education policy adviser. She said the governor’s office is conducting research to determine a competitive salary to attract the highest qualified person.
Board members said they plan to carefully choose a firm, as well as be clear about and involved in what they’re looking for throughout the search process.
Rose said during the meeting he has already made some changes to the department. Mostly, he has taken action to suspend some department operations because he hasn’t seen evidence yet that the programs are in compliance with legislative directives.
One of the duties the superintendent retained was professional development. Rose said that was one area where he was concerned whether operations were in concert with legislative intentions.
“We’ll have to work some of those things out,” Rose said.
After the meeting, Rose said he was concerned about not stepping on the superintendent’s responsibilities, but at the same time he has concerns about appropriate budgeting for some items.
“I have to have some confidence that some of these programs are being conducted the way that we really want them to be and with budgets that are appropriate,” Rose said.
He said five of Cindy Hill’s administrative staff members have moved to the superintendent’s new office. Rose said there is no item on his agenda to decide whether some staff members will remain, and he's told them he will not terminate anyone.