A pair of current district superintendents, and the former head of Montana public school system have been named as finalists for the top job in Seattle Public Schools

The Seattle School Board voted unanimously on Monday evening to bring Denise Juneau, Jeanice Swift, and Andre Spencer in for interviews and public vetting later this week, with plans to select one of the three at its April 4 meeting. That choice, pending final negotiations, will replace Larry Nyland on July 1.  

Juneau served two terms as Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction — becoming the first Native American woman elected to a statewide position in Montana — before mounting a bid for Congress in 2016 against now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Swift has spent the past five years as the superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools, with more than three decades of public education experience; most of it in Colorado Springs, Colo. In October, the Michigan Association of School Administrators named her Michigan Superintendent of the Year.

Spencer was appointed superintendent of Harrison School District Two — also in Colorado Springs — in January 2013, after a three-year stint as a regional superintendent in the Houston Independent School District, and more than a decade in Baltimore City Public Schools in a range of teaching and administrative roles. He was a finalist for the superintendent position in Cincinnati Public Schools last year, before that district ultimately chose an in-house candidate.

The three candidates will be in town on Thursday to meet with the public, with a forum set for 5 p.m. at the John Stanford Center (2445 Third Ave. S.). Candidate impression forms will be posted at www.seattleschools.org through Thursday at 9 p.m. to allow for additional public feedback to the school board.

District IV School Board Director Eden Mack said she’s looking for someone with “operational chutzpah.”

“A superintendent that knows how to manage and administer a large organization effectively, and from the credentials of the folks that we’ve seen so far, I think they all have that capacity,” she said. “I’m excited to learn more about how they could specifically carry that out in Seattle.”

School Board President Leslie Harris said she’s seeking a superintendent with strong management and budget skills, but also a passionate leader.

“I want a leader that will get people excited, and that will bring folks together for that magic, [to] make a difference to every one of our 53,000 kids,” she said. “We can do this. This city is too big, too rich, too brilliant not to do this.”

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