Richland 2 shortens list of top-job candidates

The Richland 2 school board is moving closer to naming its top candidates to succeed retiring school superintendent Steve Hefner.

The board spent Tuesday and Thursday nights meeting with BWP Associates, the organization hired by the district to manage the search, to determine a list of candidates who will make the first round of interviews, board chairman Bill Flemming said Thursday.

"They ended up with about 14 or 15 really competitive applicants" among about 100 qualified candidates who applied, he said. That group includes candidates who currently work in the 24,000-student district.

"We are not going to interview all of them," Flemming said. "It will be somewhere between five and eight candidates."

Board member Stephanie Burgess said the substantial number of qualified candidates "shows that they are really clamoring to move to a school district that is succeeding."

Early in the search process, BWP senior associate Mary Ann Blaskowitz said the district eventually would cull its pool of candidates to three finalists, and the public would have a chance to meet them during walk-arounds.

"We're not at that point yet," Blaskowitz said Thursday. "As soon as they know the three, they will let everybody know."

Hefner, whose tenure will be celebrated at a gala March 13, has spent 16 years as superintendent and earns a base salary of $165,000.

He is recognized for promoting innovations in technology, choice and magnet programs and investing in human capital for the district.

He will retire at the end of the school year.