CASPER, Wyo. — Six semifinal candidates for the position of Wyoming Department of Education director, including a former Natrona County School District superintendent, will meet with the State Board of Education and members of the public Friday and Saturday.
The board may decide this weekend which three candidates’ names to send to Gov. Matt Mead, who will choose the department director, according to Board Coordinator Paige Fenton Hughes.
The 2013 Legislature charged the board with submitting three finalists to Mead, who has until Dec. 1 to make a selection.
A bill signed into law earlier this year, Senate File 104, removed the elected superintendent of public instruction as head of the department and created the position of an appointed director. Jim Rose, the executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, is serving as acting director.
The candidates are:
-- Stanley Olson, a former superintendent of the Natrona County School District and now director of business development with Silverback Learning Solutions in Boise, Idaho, according to the press release. He also was a district superintendent in Boise. Olson holds a doctorate from Western Michigan University.
The Boise school board of trustees in 2001 chose Olson as superintendent for his “background in expanding school choice in Casper, helping Wyoming teachers get $50 million in raises and encouraging parental involvement in district decisions,” according to Star-Tribune reports. Olson ran for Idaho’s office of state superintendent of public instruction in 2010.
-- Tony Apostle, retired superintendent of Puyallup Public Schools in Puyallup, Wash, according to a Wyoming Department of Education press release. Apostle oversaw a district with 21,000 students and a $230 million budget. He was also the director of administrative services and elementary education for Puyallup Schools. He holds an education doctorate from Washington State University.
According to The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., he led the Puyallup schools “during a time of deep state and federal funding reductions.” He announced his retirement in August of 2011, according to the paper, and in 2012 said he’d pursue other opportunities in education.
-- Charles Hokanson, president of the Hokanson Consulting Group LLC in Arlington, Va., according to the press release. He works with government agencies and nonprofits on educational strategy, strategic management and donor relations. He has held various positions in the U.S. Department of Education, including deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and chief of staff in the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. Hokanson has a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School.
-- Richard Crandall, a state senator in Arizona and the past chair of the Arizona Senate and House Education Committees, according to the press release. He also is the chief executive officer and chief financial officer of CN Resources and Crandall Corporate Dietitians in Mesa, Ariz. Crandall is a former member of the Mesa Schools Governing Board and holds a master of business administration from Notre Dame.
According to the Arizona Capitol Times, Crandall announced in March he would not finish his full term and had plans to work as an education consultant. The former school board member has focused extensively on public education since becoming a lawmaker in 2007, according to the article.
-- Michael Sentance, a consultant specializing in educational change in Concord, Mass., according to the press release. He is a former senior education adviser for the governor of Massachusetts. He holds a juris doctorate from Duquesne University and a master of law degree from the Boston University School of Law.
StateImpact, a reporting project of National Public Radio, listed him in February 2013 among the applicants for Ohio state superintendent of public instruction.
-- Norman Ridder, the superintendent of the Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, Mo., according to the press release. He oversees a district of 24,876 students and a $273 million budget. He’s a former superintendent of the Colorado Springs School District 11, where he oversaw an enrollment of 31,000. He holds an education doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Ridder didn't request an eighth extension of his current contract in March, saying it was time to contemplate the next chapter of his life and career.
The public can meet and ask questions of each candidate Friday and Saturday. The board will receive feedback from the public sessions before making its decision, according to a press release.
“We think it’s terribly important to involve the public as much as they want to be involved in this process,” State Board of Education Chairman Ron Micheli said in a recording from the Wyoming Department of Education, “ And there will be opportunities for the public to come in and ask questions and then we will get the feedback from those, and it will be incredible important to make sure that the concerns and accolades be heard from the regular public as well as the board.”