CINCINNATI -- When asked what he thinks Cincinnati Public Schools needs, Andre Spencer replied quickly: "Me."
Spencer, current superintendent of Harrison Public School District Two in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is one of two remaining candidates in the running to take over Cincinnati Public Schools when Mary Ronan retires Aug. 1. His rival is Catherine Laura Mitchell, the district's deputy superintendent.
Both would-bes met with local parents and guardians Tuesday night to learn what issues were most important to residents of the district they could soon be managing.
Whichever candidate wins out will be placed at the head of a school system in the process of expansion -- a levy approved in November added $48 million to the district's budget, and nearly a third of that money has been allocated to extending the availability of area preschools.
For Eula Melson, who attended the event, it was most important to ensure that students from less affluent areas were not forgotten in the process of growing the district.
"I want to make sure our low-income students get the same fair education as children from the middle and upper-middle class," she said.
Mitchell said this was a long-standing priority of hers.
"This is a district I grew up in, so this is personal to me," Mitchell said. "That's actually something that we're going to work on and have been working on so that our neighborhood schools have the type of rich programming our magnet schools have."
Spencer cited a program he'd enacted in Colorado Springs that allowed students to get a head-start on secondary education by taking two years of college classes concurrently with high school.
"They can get an associate degree, cutting off two years of their four years of college, transitioning into a four-year college as a junior, graduating two years early, and then they can move on to employment or to graduate school early," he said.
The district will make its final selection before the date of Ronan's retirement -- a decision could potentially come down as early as the end of May.
"I like both of them," said Melson. "If I could glue them together, I'd take them!"