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Columbus City Schools superintendent search narrows to three candidates

Columbus City Schools superintendent candidates Brian MacDonald, Angela Chapman, and George "Eric" Thomas.
Columbus City Schools superintendent candidates Brian MacDonald, Angela Chapman, and George "Eric" Thomas.

Earlier this week, interviews with superintendent candidates for Columbus City Schools ran to six hours and produced six candidates. Thursday nights's round took seven hours, and narrowed the field to three. All three will be in Columbus next week for a round of meetings with students, staff and the public, before the final round of interviews begins the week of May 15th.

The three finalists are Brian McDonald, superintendent with Pasadena Unified Schools in California, George "Eric" Thomas, Minneapolis Public Schools associate superintendent, and current CCS interim superintendent, Dr. Angela Chapman.

Chapman was tapped in December, when superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon announced she would leave the district at the end of the school year, and became interim January 1. Chapman has worked as a teacher and administrator at districts in Ohio, Tennessee and Washington D.C. She came to Columbus in 2019 as chief transformation and leadership officer. Since stepping up to superintendent's office, Chapman has focused on the board's post-pandemic priorities of attendance, graduation rates, and early literacy success.

Pasadena, California Unified School District superintendent Brian McDonald filled in as interim before becoming permanent in 2014. In a district comparable to Columbus in size, MacDonald has faced similar challenges with shrinking enrollment and budget. MacDonald has had to weigh budget cuts, including closing four schools.

Also under consideration is Minneapolis Public Schools associate superintendent George "Eric" Thomas, who began his career with Cincinnati Public Schools. Following a stint as the district's chief innovation officer he was recruited to the University of Virginia’s Partnership for Leaders in Education (PLE) Program. According to his submitted biography, Thomas "led the redesign of the organization’s support strategy to impact districts across the country and he directly guided some of the nation’s largest districts."

Next week all three candidates will be in Columbus for "A Day in the District" where they meet staff, students and stakeholders, and take part in a virtual Q & A session for the public. The final round of interviews will take place the week of May 15th. Board of Education president Jennifer Adair has said the goal is to have the new superintendent in place before the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.