From Newsweek to the Washington Post, Bellevue schools are near the top of the rankings again this year.

It s a suburban, diverse district, known for its advance placement programs, now searching for a new leader.

Bellevue's superintendent search comes just after Seattle finished its search, picking Jose Banda.

Both Seattle and Bellevue scheduled each finalist to spend one intense day in the district.

But in Seattle the general public never got to meet the candidates.

It was basically designed to attract candidates who wanted a certain level of confidentiality, and to protect them through the process, said Sharon Peaslee, Seattle School Board.

Bellevue is taking a different approach. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, each candidate faces the public at 7:15 in the morning and again, at 6:30 at night.

At the first forum Tuesday morning, only about a dozen people attended, but Apostle laid out his plan for academies.

Alex Apostle is superintendent in Montana. Before that, he was assistant superintendent and a principal in Tacoma, principal in Finley near Kennewick and in Issaquah.

Mark Mitrovich has been superintendent in Naperville, Illinois. He led two companies in educational software. He was also a superintendent in Gig Harbor.

Tim Mills is superintendent at North Clackamas, Ore. He also led two districts in Colorado, and was a principal at Mesa Valley.

Trust and transparency and openness is really important, said Bellevue School District Spokeswoman Jacque Coe.

Bellevue is reluctant to compare its process to Seattle's, but Bellevue sees these public forums as tests.

If a candidate has something in their background wherever it is, that's going to come out eventually, and that's why we have an engaged public, said Coe.

The final decision is up to the school board.

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