(KCPW News) The state school board meets today to interview four finalists for the next superintendent of Utah's public schools. Board Chairwoman Debra Roberts says the position is one of the most difficult in the state, because the superintendent must work well with lawmakers, educators, and the board of education.
"So here's an individual who has to get along very well with a variety of personalities and a variety of people, has to have extremely good communication skills and be able to communicate not only with those stakeholders, but with the public in general," Roberts says. "So probably one of the most important things is that idea of communication."
Roberts says current Superintendent Patti Harrington has done an exceptional job during her tenure. But she's leaving the public education system at a particularly difficult time. The board of education is in the process of putting together a long-term vision for the state's schools. And the state budget cuts earlier this year slashed two percent from the education budget, which could jump to 16 percent if no additional funds are found during the next legislative session.
"These are very scary times and something the public needs to understand and that our state superintendent will have to articulate, is that we cannot continue the educational services of the past with these kinds of huge cuts," Roberts says. "And so yeah, you can't get away from the fact that there are some very serious, very scary issues ahead of us."
Roberts says the board hopes to have an announcement on the new superintendent by this afternoon. Harrington will retire at the end of June.