Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James is one of several candidates being interviewed this month for the position of the Columbus City Schools superintendent.

James had his first interview with the district Wednesday evening.

“I have quite a few questions about the situation and what the board wants to accomplish moving forward,” James said before the interview. “After I get some of that information, I’ll probably be able to assess what the next step will be.”

The Columbus Board of Education, which is conducting the search along with Hazar, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA), narrowed the number of candidates down from 19 applicants.

District spokesman Scott Varner would not specify how many candidates remain in the running, but he did say that the district conducted two other interview sessions with multiple people before James.

Varner said the board and HYA received feedback from hundreds of community members about the ideal candidate, and used that feedback to select which candidates to interview.

The post opened when Dan Good announced his plans over the summer to retire Dec. 31. John Stanford, who is one of the applicants for the position, became the interim superintendent Jan. 1.

James is one of 10 current superintendents from schools across the country to apply to lead the state’s largest school district.

Varner said the board would not comment on individual candidates.

James has been the superintendent of Akron Public Schools since 2008. He oversees 20,000 students, 3,000 employees and more than 50 school buildings.

Columbus has more than 50,000 students.

James’ contract with Akron schools, which the board of education could choose to renew, is up in 2019. He has said that he planned on staying in his position until 2021, but the Columbus district has “always kind of been on my radar screen.”

“He’s been very good at communicating with us as we’ve made multiple pleas with him to consider staying,” board President Patrick Bravo said Wednesday with a laugh.

Varner said once interviews are finished, board members will agree on a list of semifinalists and announce their names.

Semifinalist interviews are set to start Jan. 23.

Varner said the board hopes to announce the new superintendent in February.

Theresa Cottom can be reached at 330-996-3216 or tcottom@thebeaconjournal.com.