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The Ellensburg School District will have open interviews for five to seven superintendent candidate finalists on Feb. 3 in the Morgan Middle School Library, according to a news release.

The board originally put out a call for community volunteers to help them interview candidates, but due to the high volume of responses, the board decided to do the interviews in a public meeting, and open it up to everyone.

Each candidate will be given an hour to answer questions selected by the school board. The audience will give the board feedback on each candidate through an evaluation form, which will remain anonymous and confidential, according to the release. At the end of the day, there will be an opportunity to give public comment.

According to the release, the event will start at 8:45 a.m., and conclude with public comment at 5:15 p.m., with three 15-minute breaks throughout the day.

At the moment, the district has 32 applications for the superintendent position, which have been gathered through the search firm McPherson and Jacobson. The school board will narrow that list down to five to seven finalists in an executive session at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 25 in the district office.

Interim Superintendent Mike Nollan updated the board on the search during Wednesday’s school board meeting, saying that about a third of the candidates are from Washington state, and the majority of them have either superintendent experience or assistant superintendent experience.

“It’s been a very open transparent, positive process,” Nollan said. “We’re very enthused by the numbers we’re seeing on paper and the qualifications of people.”

After the open interviews on Feb. 3, the top three candidates will visit Ellensburg individually on Feb. 5, 6 and 7 — pending their availability — according to the release. Those interviews will have public forums each day at 6 p.m. at Valley View Elementary School. Candidates will make a brief presentation to the community followed by time for questions from the public.

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