Amarillo Globe-News editorial on disclosing superintendent finalists: The more, the merrier

Amarillo Globe-News
Originally published on Nov. 3, 2014

When voters go the polls today, there will be several races that are more or less history. These races (if that is the correct term since there is no competition) feature a lone candidate.

Talk about ballot box boredom.

There is a more serious issue, though, as far as how our leaders are chosen, and this has more to do with public responsibility and accountability than voting.

Dumas Independent School District’s Board of Trustees recently named a lone finalist for superintendent.

Speaking of voting, a final vote on the superintendent position is scheduled for Nov. 19.

Want to place a wager on who gets the job? Could it be the lone finalist?

We are not criticizing the lone finalist. It could well be that this person is the best candidate for the job.

But how does anyone know? How can candidates be compared when only one candidate is announced as a finalist?

A similar process was used by the Amarillo College Board of Regents when Russell Lowery-Hart was named as the lone finalist for AC president in July, and we can’t count the number of school districts that cling to this lone finalist policy.

Again, we are not knocking the candidates, but rather the process that does not serve the best interest of the public.

The Texas Public Information Act says a school board must announce the name (or names) of finalists at least 21 days before taking a final vote. Applicants are exempt.

What’s wrong with a school board announcing at least three finalists for a high-profile (and oftentimes well-paying) job? Residents need to know whether officials (some elected) are working hard to do their jobs or just making an easy hire.

The most important thing a school board, city council or commission does is select its president, city manager or chief executive.

The search for this person demands accountability so taxpayers have confidence in the selection process.

Naming a lone finalist does not instill confidence in this process.