The Gilbert Unified School District governing board will pick a new superintendent at today's board meeting, weeks earlier than originally anticipated, according to the board president. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Quartz Hill Elementary School, 3680 S. Quartz St. A dedication of the district's newest school is planned at 6 p.m.
The board announced two weeks ago the names of the four superintendent candidates, all of whom are longtime district employees. Only district employees were invited to apply for the position.
The finalists are Dave Allison, associate superintendent of administrative services; Gayle Blanchard, principal of Neely Traditional Academy; Ken James, executive director of educational services; and Barbara VeNard, assistant superintendent of educational services.
The district did an internal search for a new superintendent after Brad Barrett announced in November he was leaving on June 30, at the end of his contract. He has been in the post for seven years and has not yet announced what his plans will be after leaving.
The board initially expected to make a decision by the first meeting of March.
However, board President Helen Hollands said the last couple of steps in the decision-making process went "much faster" than expected.
"We had the opportunity to get it on Tuesday night's agenda," she said. "We know how anxious everyone is, so we decided to make it happen."
Gilbert parent and grandparent Jack Burns initially said that the district was appointing somebody too quickly. However, after he called a friend on the board, he said the time was justified because they only had to choose between the four candidates.
"I believe all the four candidates are very qualified, and it sounds like the board has done their job," said Burns, 66, who has tried twice to get on the board after vacancies occurred. "I think they had anticipated more applicants and therefore would have needed more time to make their decision."
Interested employees were asked to apply for the position by the beginning of January. The four finalists were the only applicants who filled out the application completely.
The governing board finished its final interview Feb. 5 in a closed session. That is the same day Traci Klein abruptly resigned from the board, which is now down to four members.
None of the interviews were done in public, and none of the candidates have talked about their plans if they become the next superintendent.