Colorado Springs School District 11's seven-member board of education named two finalists Wednesday for the job of superintendent for the Pikes Peak region's largest and oldest school district.
In a special public meeting, the board announced the top candidates as Joel Boyd, instructional superintendent of Boston Public Schools, and Michael Thomas, chief of academics, leadership and learning for Minneapolis Public Schools.
The board will hold public interview sessions on June 1, with the time and format to be determined.
Boyd has worked in Boston for one year and previously was superintendent at Santa Fe Public Schools for four years. His experience has spanned from the classroom to principal to the central administration office of some of the nation's largest school systems.
Boyd earned his doctoral degree from Harvard University in 2012 as a John T. Stevens Fellow, and also received a master's degree from Harvard in education policy and management.
Thomas is chief of schools in Minneapolis and has a varied educational and career background in social work at hospitals, community mental health organizations, corrections facilities and schools. He also has worked in Minnesota school districts as an elementary and junior high principal and a district administrator coordinating equity and integration efforts.
He's receiving his doctoral degree in educational leadership as a Presidential Scholar at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
The board had selected a third finalist, but that person withdrew from consideration after being notified, D-11 Board President James Mason said in an interview.
The district received some 1,100 applications, Mason said, to replace the retiring Nicholas Gledich. Of those, 79 were "vetted for the position," Mason said.
Applicants included five in-house employees, he said.
"It was a rigorous process that evaluated each candidate against the pre-agreed-upon criteria set by the board," Mason said.
The board hired executive leadership search firm Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to assist with the process.
The firm conducted a survey of the school community and the public to gauge what traits people would most like to see in a new leader.
"Willing to listen to input, but is a decision-maker," was the No. 1 response among all groups who participated.
Other top qualities desired included someone who models high standards, inspires trust, and promotes a positive and professional environment.
The 65-year-old Gledich announced in February that he would retire on June 30, after leading D-11 for nine years. The district weathered difficult financial times during his tenure, which resulted in several school closures.
The district also has had numerous accomplishments under Gledich's leadership, including voter approval of a $42 million mill levy override last November, transforming Wasson High School into a model for nontraditional education with nine separate programs, having seven "Teacher of the Year" recipients in various specialties, two schools being awarded National Blue Ribbon honors and recognition as a "Best Workplace" in the region" by The Gazette.