PORTLAND — The School Board plans to allocate up to $15,000 more to find a new superintendent of schools, and has narrowed its selection to two finalists.

The names and backgrounds of the candidates will be released May 2.

The board had allocated up to $25,000 in January for Illinois-based search firm BWP & Associates. School Board Chairwoman Marnie Morrione on Monday said the additional funding would be used for things not covered by BWP, such as travel expenses for the candidates, advertising, background checks and sending board members to the selected candidate’s home district.

Morrione said the estimate is high because the figures haven’t been finalized, and the board is “appropriating more than we need.”

Fewer than 50 people from around the country applied for the school chief position. BWP then interviewed 13 of those individuals, and presented the board with six semifinalists. Two came from Maine, two from other New England states, and two from outside New England.

The board and student representatives met with five of the semifinalists in private interviews April 11–14. One candidate was interviewed via video.

“The interviews went extremely well,” Morrione said.

Morrione said the two finalists will come to Portland on May 2 and 3. Each candidate will visit an elementary, middle and high school; have lunch with Mayor Ethan Strimling and city councilors; participate in several rounds of questions  with various groups; have a final interview with the board; and participate in an open community forum.

The May 2 public forum will be at Casco Bay High School, 196 Allen Ave., in Room 200, from 7:30-9 p.m. The May 3 forum will be at the same time, but in the auditorium at King Middle School, 92 Deering Ave.

The board will then have an executive session May 4 to make its final selection. Morrione said the decision will probably be announced in mid-May after a contract is negotiated.

“It’s gone very well so far,” she said. “We’ve been very excited about our finalists.”

The position opened when former Superintendent of Schools Emmanuel Caulk resigned last summer. Caulk, who was hired in 2012, became the superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Kentucky.

The board appointed Jeanne Crocker to serve as the interim replacement for one year beginning last August. The start date for the new superintendent will be July 1.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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