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NAMPA -- Teachers, students and parents in Nampa got a chance to meet the superintendent finalists today.

Two men are hoping to steer Nampa schools back onto solid financial footing and out of a huge hole.

For about 20 minutes reporters were able to fire as many questions as they could at each of the two candidates.

Each finalist has over 30 years of experience in education. Both men started out their careers in the classroom.

The thing that drives me is delivering on the purpose of public education, said Glen Gelbrich.

Gelbrich is superintendent of schools in Juneau, Alaska. He s ready to take on a new challenge and come back to the lower 48.

He spent the day meeting with those who work inside the schools.

And what I sense from those conversations so far, is a sense of optimism about the worst is behind us, and we are now ready to roll up our sleeves and do the work of a school district, said Gelbrich.

After dealing with all sorts of budgets and funding issues, Gelbrich said he is not intimidated by Nampa s recent financial troubles.

Given the kind of financial turmoil that the district has faced, and the kind of emotions and conversations that that produces, I think it s been an effective distraction from the classroom, try as people might it s a huge cloud, and part of getting the financial circumstances in order is to remove that cloud, and let people turn back to the thing that teachers love, and administrators love, and moms and dads love, to focus on which is - how can we get stronger and get kids to succeed? said Gelbrich.

The other finalist is David Peterson who comes from North Mason School District in Washington where he too has managed tough budgets.

Peterson said he has conquered that district's financial issues and is ready for a new challenge.

I think my experience shows that a lot of what I am capable of doing could benefit Nampa right now, said Peterson.

Peterson says he has a solid resume building student achievement and graduation rates. In North Mason, he also dealt with a severe budget crisis.

It was a school district struggling to move itself forward, and seven years later we are in great shape, finally we went from wondering if we were going to make payroll, to ending this year with an 8 percent increase in fund balance, the relations are fabulous, we have a great board and superintendent relationship, things are in great shape, said Peterson.

The community also had the chance to meet with the candidates at an open house type of event Monday evening. The board meets Thursday evening where a candidate could be chosen, or not, but the discussion among the board will surely take place.

Interim Superintendent Pete Koelher is set to resign in June and then the new superintendent will take over on July 1st.

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