EARLY — Early school board members have culled the field of applicants for the school district’s next superintendent from 40 to 7.

School board members will have a first round of interviews for the seven applicants May 12-14, board president Shawn Russell said in a letter posted on the district’s web page.

Board members will conduct the interviews in executive sessions beginning at 4 p.m. each of those days.

After the first round of interviews, the board will further narrow the field to two or three candidates, Russell said.

The board hopes to name the lone finalist in late May or early June, and the new superintendent will begin work July 1, Russell said.

The person selected for the job will replace Wes Beck, who announced his retirement late last year. Beck has been superintendent since 2014.

Having 40 applicants is “a testament to our amazing district,” Russell said in the online letter.

School board members earlier chose the Region 15 Education Service Center to conduct the superintendent’s search.

In February, residents of the district told representatives of the service center what they wanted in the next superintendent. The service center collected input from the community, the school board and school staff.

Characteristics sought in the new superintendent include being an effective leader and motivator, having great communication skills and having a strong background in academics and school finance, Russell said.