The State Board of Education has selected Ray and Associates, an Iowa-based company, to conduct the search for candidates to be commissioner of education.

The board is searching for a replacement for Commissioner Robert Hammond, who resigned at the end of June (see story). Elliott Asp, a former Hammond advisor and veteran Colorado administrator, is serving as interim commissioner.

Ray and Associates, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, is a national company that specializes in searches for education administrators.

According to the group’s website, it’s currently doing superintendent searches for the Kansas City and Fort Worth districts, plus searches for top administrative positions in the Oklahoma City and Milwaukee schools.

It’s also doing a principal search for Aspen High School. According to information Ray gave the State Board, the firm has done recent searches for various jobs in the Jeffco, Colorado Springs 11, Eagle County, Westminster and Boulder districts.

The firm recently closed searches for superintendents in Albuquerque, Austin and the Brevard and Palm Beach districts in Florida, as well as a search for state superintendent in Michigan.

The State Board voted 6-0 to hire Ray during a special meeting Wednesday.

The board will back to full seven-member strength Saturday after a Republican Party vacancy committee chooses a successor to board chair Marcia Neal of Grand Junction, who resigned earlier this year. Eight candidates are seeking the post. One applicant, Center school board member Michael Lobato, has withdrawn. (Read about Neal’s resignation here, and learn about the people vying to succeed her here.)

The board is scheduled to select a new chair at its regular monthly meeting next Wednesday. Most observers expect Steve Durham, a Colorado Springs Republican who joined the board last January, to be selected.

Also on the board’s agenda are discussion of the commissioner search, of possible data privacy requirements for companies that provide data services to the state and of high school graduation guidelines, which developed into a touchy issue for the board earlier this year.