The St. Paul school board will take the next step in what has been a deliberate process to find a new superintendent when it interviews three search firms on Monday.

A decision on which firm to hire also is expected then, according to the meeting agenda, which does not name the companies vying to assist the board with its search.

A request for proposals issued in October states that the district hopes to have a signed deal with a new leader by the end of April and for that person to begin work on July 1.

John Thein has been serving as interim superintendent after the board decided in June to oust former district leader Valeria Silva. Thein has said he is not interested in the permanent job.

In September, Jerry Robicheau, a former interim superintendent of the East Metro Integration District, told board members during a presentation on superintendent searches that it would be not be uncommon for a district like St. Paul to spend $100,000 on a search.

"It could be less than that; it could be a lot more than that," he added.

School boards are responsible for hiring a superintendent, but a search is a complex process, and search firms play an essential role by taking profiles of what communities and boards of education want and matching them with available talent. Often, firms already have a network of possible candidates on hand.

In St. Paul, the search firm will work with consultants who recently launched a multiyear community engagement effort that begins with the superintendent search and will be followed by attempts to build consensus around other big issues facing the state's second-largest district.

Earlier this year, the Minneapolis school board replaced a search firm after its first attempt to land a new leader was unsuccessful.