Laura Seitz, Deseret News Archives
Martell Menlove, Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction, speaks with reporters at the State Board of Education office in Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013.

SALT LAKE CITY — Wanted: state superintendent of public instruction. Interested candidates should contact the Utah State Board of Education.

State School Board members took the first steps Friday in launching a search for a new superintendent, finalizing a request for proposals from outside recruiting firms and setting a tentative timeline for review of candidates.

The board intends to accept applications until the end of July, with a final selection taking place in mid-August or early September.

State Superintendent Martell Menlove announced his retirement in March, expressing that he would stay on until a replacement could be selected. The state superintendent oversees an administrative staff of more than 300 people and works as a liaison between the State School Board and Utah's government leaders.

"What we realized is this is a very demanding, difficult job," board member and search committee chairman Jefferson Moss said. "We had even more sympathy for Superintendent Menlove as we went through the process."

Some board members expressed concern that a late-summer selection would create a conflict for applicants involved in school activities for the start of the academic year. But Moss said the committee wanted to avoid the perception that the board had acted too quickly in selecting a new state superintendent.

In 2012, when Menlove was appointed, the State School Board came under fire from a group of Republican lawmakers who accused the board of conducting a rushed and superficial candidate search.

"There was a concern of making sure we allowed enough time and casted a wide enough net," Moss said.

The board briefly considered moving the application window up to mid-July to allow for an earlier review and selection of finalists but ultimately voted to post July 29 in the request for proposals for recruiting firms. The board also declined to set a hard deadline for applications, instead allowing for an open-ended window for candidates to submit names for consideration.

By late summer, preparations for the upcoming legislative session are typically underway, board member Kim Burningham said, and the new superintendent would benefit from being selected sooner rather than later.

"I just think the faster we can reasonably do it, the better off it will be in the working relationship later," Burningham said.

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