A Nebraska State Board of Education search committee has sent the board a list of 4 finalists to be the state’s next commissioner of education.
All 4 will come to Lincoln on March 30th for meetings with various groups and to be interviewed by the board in public meetings. The board will return for a public session the next day to make its pick.
The finalists are Dr Lisa Coons, Chief Academic Officer for the Tennessee Dept of Education, South Dakota Board of Regents CEO and Executive Director Dr Brian Maher, Churchill County School (Nevada) Superintendent Dr Summer Stephens, and Omaha-area superintendent Dr Melissa Poloncic of Valley.
Maher and Stephens both announced earlier this year that they are stepping down from their current positions when their contracts expire at the end of June, while Coons is the only one of the 4 without strong ties to Nebraska.
Maher has degrees from Midland, Nebraska-Omaha, and UNL and taught or was an administrator in 6 Nebraska school districts while Stephens is a native with degrees from Doane and UNL, taught in Bellevue and Norris, was an administrator in Beatrice, and worked for an ESU..
Feedback from a community survey and a public work session with the McPherson and Jacobson professional recruiting team helped the State Board of Education identify the qualities and experiences the members want in the next superintendent.
The search committee considered that list as it cut the number of applications down to the 4 finalists. Board President Patti Gubbels says choosing the finalists was “not an easy task” given the “strong slate” of applicants.
Despite that, Gubbels says the members “feel very confident” in their selections” because each finalist “brings a unique perspective and extensive experiences that will benefit our state,”