Four Applicants, Thousands of Comments on Missouri Education Chief Post

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has received roughly 3,000 public comments about the qualifications they want in the state’s next education leader. The department is asking for feedback on the issue through a three-question online survey. The categories compiled by the department show that Missourians think the biggest problem facing schools is funding and a distant second is charter schools.

The search for education commissioner follows the controversial State Board of Education members appointed by Governor Eric Greitens, R, voting last month in favor of firing Margie Vandeven. Greitens worked for several months to find appointees in support of removing Vandeven, who served at the helm since 2014.

The board has not worked out the details of the education CEO’s qualifications, but it has launched the application process for the position. Candidates have through 4:30 p.m. today to apply.

As of today, four applications have been submitted. The board could open back up the application process. However, the eight-member panel’s business is at a standstill because the Missouri Senate has not confirmed the governor’s five controversial appointees. The board can’t vote to re-open the application process, hire a new commissioner or any other education business it’s charged with doing.

Some Senators in the governor’s own party have threatened to block the board nominees because of the way Greitens devised Vandeven’s exit. Last week, Senate President Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said he’s undecided about whether the candidates will receive a confirmation hearing.

The atmosphere could also get tense during the state board of education’s public hearing today in Jefferson City about the hiring of a new commissioner. The hearing will be in the State Board of Education Room from 2-5 p.m. on the first floor of the Jefferson Building.

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