Members of the school board got the five names Tuesday from consultant Gary Ray. They include three men and two women, all with doctorates in education and all currently working in public school systems as administrators.
Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of the 9,700-student Montgomery County Schools in Christiansburg, Va. Her husband, a physician, is a graduate of Memphis City Schools.
Yvonne Brandon, deputy superintendent of the 24,000-student Richmond City Schools in Virginia. The Richmond district is 92 percent black.
Kriner Cash, chief of accountability for Miami-Dade County Schools in Florida. The system has 353,216 students and a budget of $6.4 billion. "He's a motivator," said consultant Al Johnson in a teleconference call with board members.
Nicholas Gledich, chief operations officer for Orange County Schools in Orlando, Florida. The district has 176,000 students and a budget of $3 billion. "This guy is a problem solver," said Johnson.
James Williams, superintendent of schools in Buffalo, New York. The district has 37,000 students. "He was hired to shake things up," said Johnson. Williams signed a contract extension in 2007 that lasts through 2011. His application says he is responding to an inquiry from Memphis.
The board will invite the five candidates to come to Memphis next Monday and Tuesday for interviews with board members and community forums with the general public. The deadline for picking a candidate is June 30th, although board member Martavius Jones said he hopes to have one sooner than that.
Ray said his search firm received 221 inquiries and 54 complete applications. He said the finalists are all "top-flight people." In response to a question from board member Kenneth Whalum Jr., Ray said some of the finalists applied for the job on their own and others were solicited by Ray and Associates.
Mayor Willie Herenton did not apply. And apparently his application was not solicited by Ray, either. Earlier Tuesday, Herenton presented what he called a blueprint for school reform. But he said several times he is not a candidate for superintendent.
Now that is apparently official unless the board is unable to reach something close to consensus about the finalists.