HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Huntsville City Schools (HCS) Board of Education is working towards naming a new superintendent ahead of the next school year.

After returning from the Memorial Day Weekend, the school board will start the process of reviewing candidates as the deadline to submit an application for the Huntsville City School Board Superintendent position was Friday, May 26.

“I have a lot of faith in this board,” said HCS Attorney Christopher Pape. Pape works for Lanier Ford Law Firm, who’s helping the board facilitate the application process – something they’ve been a part of for years.

While the firm does not make the final decision for the role, it will help maintain procedures. Legally, the board has 180 days to fill the position until the state board steps in to assist. Pape is optimistic that the board will have a new superintendent before the deadline.

The search comes after Christie Finley announced her retirement from her position as HCS Superintendent after a five-year stint. Pape says the board has a lot of things to consider for the role.

“Ms. Finley is leaving some big shoes to fill. Serving for five years, a lot of times superintendents don’t serve for that long. So I think they’re going to be looking for someone with some staying power because having that continuity is very important,” Pape said.

The next step requires board members to review and rank each applicant to create a top five. From there, Lanier Ford will further evaluate and present the top three candidates during a public meeting on June 6th.

To help pick the right person to fill the role, Pape says the board wants to include the community in presentations, once it finds its top 3.

“I think this current board makeup is very receptive to input,” said Pape. “I would encourage anyone who has any thoughts on it, especially once the finalists are announced to share their input with the board members. They do review that and they take those very seriously, so I’d encourage people to do that.”

Dates for the public interviews have not officially been scheduled, but Pape anticipates they will take place between June 7-12 with a final vote coming from the board after.