The Portland Public Schools Board has narrowed its interim superintendent search to a single finalist: former superintendent of the Centennial School District, Bob McKean.
McKean was among five candidates the school board interviewed out of 11 applicants. Board member Pam Knowles said McKean emerged as one of two finalists.
“Bob specifically has many years as a sitting superintendent at Centennial, and has been doing a lot of regional work. He has a great history of raising student achievement, closing the achievement gap,” Knowles said.
People familiar with the search process said Tuesday the other finalist was Paula Radich. She recently served as interim superintendent in Beaverton and Salem-Keizer. She withdrew from consideration in Portland for personal reasons, although she had support of some on the school board.
Board members intend to hire McKean as interim superintendent at Tuesday’s board meeting.
McKean will face some tall tasks as the presumed interim superintendent.
The district is in the midst of a controversy over lead in school drinking water, fueled by reports of leadership and organizational problems. Portland had to delay putting a $750 million bond measure on the ballot this fall because of the crisis, instead moving it to next May. The interim head may also have to propose a budget awash in red ink if current revenue projections hold up. And, in a few weeks, the district will open the school doors, including a new middle school in North Portland and adjusted school boundaries on the west side.
The rapid timeline was driven in part by the abrupt retirement of superintendent Carole Smith. She had been Portland superintendent for nine years.