Members of the Lawton Board of Education are preparing to interview superintendent applicants next week.

School board members met in special session at noon Tuesday to go over the list of applicants who want the district’s top job. Tom Thomas, long-time Great Plains Technology Center educator/administrator, has been serving as Lawton Public Schools interim superintendent since July 1 after the resignation of former Superintendent Tom Deighan this spring.

LPS board members met in executive session for more than two hours Tuesday, reviewing applications and comparing notes on which applicants would proceed to the interview stage. Board members will not say how many applications the district received or how many finalists will be interviewed, beyond confirming there were local and out-of-state applicants and “several good applicants.”

The application and interview process is being aided by a representative of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA), who was designated by the school board to help in the search. An OSSBA representative was present for Tuesday’s executive session, as was Thomas and Ken Baden, the district’s chief operating officer.

Board members will meet in special sessions at 4 p.m. Nov. 19 and 20 to begin their first round of interviews, said School Board Member Patty Neuwirth and a member of the board’s search team. A second round of interviews is slated for early December, with an eye toward making and announcing the selection in December.

District administrators also said they don’t expect the new superintendent to assume his/her duties with LPS until the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Thomas has agreed to serve as interim superintendent through this school year, said Lynn Cordes, the district’s executive director of media and technology services.

Baden is serving as the interim chief operating officer to replace the district’s two assistant superintendents, who retired (Barbara Ellis) or resigned to take a new job (Jaime Polk). Administrators say the new superintendent will decide on new assistant superintendents.

School board members will be relying on the district’s patrons as they begin the interview process. Board member Kent Jester, another member of the school board’s search team, said he and other board members will use the data they culled from patrons and district employees during public forums held in October.

The district gathered applications from late September through Nov. 8.

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