Five Educators, Three From Nevada, Picked As Finalists For Nevada Public Education Chief

CARSON CITY – Five finalists for Nevada’s top public education job were submitted today to the state Board of Education.

The names of three finalists will be forwarded to Gov. Brian Sandoval for his final selection after interviews are conducted by the Board of Education next month.

The five finalists, picked from 15 applicants who sought the position of state superintendent of public instruction, are:

- René Cantú Jr., currently the executive director of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Community Foundation and former vice president of multicultural affairs at Nevada State College;

René Cantú Jr.

- James Guthrie, senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Berkeley Unified School District in California.

- Magdalena Martinez, assistant vice chancellor for academic and student affairs with the Nevada System of Higher Education;

- Caroline McIntosh, superintendent of schools for the Lyon County School District;

James Guthrie.

- Sylvia McMullen, co-founder of the Education Data Collaborative and executive director of the Texas Education Reform Foundation, of College Park, Texas;

Keith Rheault, Nevada’s current superintendent who will be retiring in early April, said the state board is scheduled to interview the finalists on Feb. 22 and 23, voting on Feb. 24 on three finalists to forward to Sandoval for his consideration for a March appointment.

Sandoval wants a new schools chief on board well ahead of the 2013 legislative session.

As a result of education reform legislation approved by the 2011 Legislature, Sandoval now has the authority to appoint the new schools chief. In the past the 10-member Board of Education had the authority to select the superintendent.

Magdalena Martinez.

Magdalena Martinez.

The job pays about $121,785 a year plus benefits.

Sandoval has called the appointment one of the most important he will make as governor.

Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval, helped pick the five finalists.

The reform legislation in Senate Bill 197 also changes the makeup of the state Board of Education following the 2012 general election. The board will have four elected members, one from each of the state’s congressional districts, one member appointed by Sandoval and one member each selected by the Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker. There will also be four non-voting members appointed by the governor representing different public education interests.

Sandoval and lawmakers also agreed to a number of education reforms in the 2011 session, including a new teacher evaluation process to ensure the best educators remain in the classroom.