PORTLAND — The school board will select semifinalists for superintendent tonight from a pool of 159 applicants.

The board is holding an executive session at Casco Bay High School at 6:30 p.m. to hear recommendations from national consulting firm Proact, which the board hired to help with the search process.

The board expects to hire a new superintendent by the middle of June, according to a press release from the school district.

Superintendent Jim Morse, hired in 2009, announced in October that he would retire in June. He later accepted a job as superintendent of the Oyster River School District based in Durham, N.H. His last day of work in Portland is June 15.

The board plans to begin interviews with semi-finalists for the position later this month, then shrink the pool of applicants again, and interview finalists in May, according to the release.

“We have attracted what looks to be a large and talented group of applicants from all over the country,” Sarah Thompson, chair of the board’s superintendent search committee, said in a prepared statement.

The district said that 34 percent of the applicants are working as superintendents, and 12 percent are assistant superintendents. About three-quarters of the applicants work for districts that are the same size or smaller than Portland. About a quarter of them have ties to Maine.