Topeka A new state education commissioner could be hired by April.
The State Board of Education this week contracted with the National Association of State Boards of Education to conduct a search for a commissioner.
The contract is for up to $45,000, according to Cynthia Williams, a spokeswoman for the education department.
"It is critical that the board engage the services of an organization that has a clear understanding of the educational trends of the nation and the unique position of the state board in education reform," said Board Chairman Bill Wagnon, a Topeka Democrat.
The board will meet at 2 p.m. today to consult with Brenda Welburn, chief executive officer of the Alexandria, Va.-based NASBE, about the hiring process.
The vacancy of education commissioner was created after the resignation of Bob Corkins in November.
Corkins, who had no education administration experience, was hired in 2005 by the 6-4 conservative majority on the board. When a 6-4 moderate majority formed after last year's elections, Corkins left.
The board said it hopes to interview finalists for the position in late March and appoint a commissioner at the April board meeting.
Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis is serving as interim commissioner.
In 2005, when the board was searching for a new commissioner before hiring Corkins, it also used NASBE. But at that time, conservatives on the board disregarded NASBE assistance.