CLEVELAND - The Cleveland school board named Eugene Sanders one of two finalists for superintendent, narrowing the field down from three yesterday.
Mr. Sanders, superintendent of Toledo Public Schools since 2000, was not at the four-hour board meeting and declined to comment yesterday.
The Cleveland school system, with 60,000 students, is twice as large as Toledo's.
The other finalist is Nancy McGinley, chief academic officer of Charleston, S.C., schools.
Eliminated from consideration yesterday was William Denihan, chief executive of the Cuyahoga County Community Mental Health Board.
Mary Anne Sharkey, a consultant to the Cleveland school board on the superintendent/CEO search, said the board will arrange for representatives to make on-site visits to Toledo and Charleston.
"They are hoping to get to Toledo, hopefully later this week, depending on how they can get things arranged," she said.
The Cleveland board met with the mayor, council, civic leaders, and community members and "the consensus was that they wanted a CEO who is an educator," Ms. Sharkey said yesterday. That narrowed the candidates to Mr. Sanders and Ms. McGinley.
Mr. Sanders, 49, receives pay and compensation totaling $194,179 annually. No salary for the Cleveland post has been set, but Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who left the job last month, was paid $278,000 annually.
On Friday, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner made an unusual plea to the Toledo Board of Education and city community to keep Mr. Sanders from leaving.
The mayor, who appeared before reporters with other local leaders, did not offer a raise or any other perks to keep Mr. Sanders in Toledo
"Dr. Sanders will stay, I believe, if he feels there is a place in our hearts and this community for his continued leadership," Mr. Finkbeiner said.
Mr. Sanders announced in December that his last day running the Toledo school system would be Aug. 31. The board of education accepted his resignation Dec. 8 - releasing him from his contract that otherwise would have expired in 2009.
During Mr. Sanders' nearly six years as superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, its academic rating has been elevated from the lowest possible of academic emergency to continuous improvement, which is the equivalent of a C.
It has retained the rating for two consecutive years as well as a tough federal standard known as adequate yearly progress.
The district also has passed operating and construction levies, approved contracts with all its unions, begun a districtwide construction project that will replace or renovate many buildings, and opened two single-gender elementary schools.
But Mr. Sander's tenure has not been a complete bed of roses.
The district's enrollment has dropped from about 37,000 students when he was hired in 2000 to about 30,000 today. As a result, funding has plunged and district leaders project a $19 million budget deficit for the 2006-2007 school year.
In January, Mr. Sanders said the district would have to eliminate 380 positions throughout the district - many of them teachers - or close up to nine schools to erase the deficit.
The cuts would likely come from a combination of school closings and layoffs, he said, although some positions would be eliminated through attrition.
Board of Education President Darlene Fisher, who was a critic of TPS and Mr. Sanders before her election to the school board, said Friday she was not in favor of persuading Mr. Sanders to stay with the district.
Board Vice President Deborah Barnett and board member Larry Sykes have said they would like to see him continue.
Mr. Sanders was a professor and chairman of the department of educational administration and supervision at Bowling Green State University when he was selected by a 4-1 board vote in 2000 as superintendent of Toledo Public Schools.