Doctor Keith Ballard retires this summer, but the board wants to name his replacement by the end of January.


Both of the announced finalists graduated from TPS; one has had a career in several states, now in Rhode Island, while the other spent most of his career in Tulsa, rising to deputy superintendent before leaving three years ago.


The board says Millard House is one of the finalists. He's a former TPS deputy superintendent, now working in Charlotte, North Carolina, after serving as the school district's chief operating officer. He was one of the architects of the consolidation plan for Tulsa schools, a former principal at Anderson Elementary, and founder of Tulsa's KIPP charter school.




Dr. Deborah Gist is the other finalist. She's the top state official for education in Rhode Island. She was also an education official for Washington DC, and has classroom experience in Texas and Florida.


Dr. Deborah Gist resume

"What will happen next is a third round of interviews. That happens this weekend, and I think they're hoping to narrow it down pretty quick," said Chris Payne of Tulsa Public Schools.

Payne says some community members have been invited into the final interviews, which are otherwise closed to the public. The teachers union will have two representatives there.

"I'm just hoping that whoever comes in has a respect for teachers and what they do. All teachers want is the respect and support, so teachers can do what they need to do for kids in their classrooms," said Patti Ferguson, president of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.

Ferguson only knows what she's heard about Gist, but she's worked alongside House during his years in Tulsa. "We had a very good relationship. He would show up and sit down and say I've got something I want to talk with you about," said Ferguson.

The candidate's bios are on the NewsOn6 web page. After the selection, the board will go into contract talks with the candidate. They have not announced a deadline for that to happen, but do expect to have their pick named by next week.