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Governor gets 3 finalists for Nevada state schools chief

Gov. Steve Sisolak will choose the state’s next superintendent of public instruction from a list of three applicants, all of whom have leadership experience in Nevada’s education system.

The state Board of Education on Tuesday recommended Brett Barley, former deputy state superintendent of student achievement; Jhone Ebert, a former chief innovation and productivity officer in the Clark County School District; and Seng-Dao Yang Keo, a Chaparral High School graduate who directs the Office of Student and School Supports in the state Education Department to Sisolak, who will appoint the next superintendent.

Barley, who left the state department in August, now serves as superintendent of the Wonderful College Prep Academy charter school in Delano, California.

Ebert, who began a 25-year stint in the Clark County School District as a teacher at Von Tobel Middle School in 1990, is a senior deputy commissioner in the New York State Education Department.

The three were chosen from six semifinalists.

Board members questioned applicants about legislative priorities, closing achievement gaps and implementing controversial but necessary policies.

In her interview, Ebert discussed the need to change education funding in order to close achievement gaps.

“There is a lot of mistrust in our state on how we use funds for education,” she said. “And we have to hit that head on.”

Barley garnered support from Yvette Williams of the Clark County Black Caucus, who noted his “extensive familiarity” with state department regulatory processes and state legislative experience.

Keo was opposed during public comment by Sherry Rupert of the Nevada Indian Commission but received support from Ethel Branch, a Harvard University classmate and former attorney general of the Navajo nation.

The new superintendent will assume the post at a critical moment for education — during a Legislative session in which fixing the state’s education funding formula will likely be a hot topic.

“All three of the candidates we are sending to Governor Sisolak possess the qualifications we believe are essential to ensure that the students in our state are college and career ready when they graduate from high school,” Board President Elaine Wynn said in a statement. “For Nevada’s economy to continue to evolve, our education system must produce a skilled workforce and ensure that students are not left behind.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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