DANVILLE — Two Danville schools principals will move to new jobs come Dec. 2 following the unexpected resignation of North Ridge Middle School's chief.
School board members on Wednesday approved appointing Chris Rice, now East Park Elementary School's principal, to lead the middle school, and Eliza Brooks, now Liberty Elementary School's principal, to succeed Rice at East Park.
Rice will earn a pro-rated annual salary of $84,000 plus benefits, up from his current salary of $81,597. Brooks will earn a pro-rated annual salary of $83,027 plus benefits, up from her current salary of $81,027.
Mark Neil, who retired as Danville High School's principal on June 30, will serve as Liberty's interim chief for a maximum of 100 days at a rate of about $395 per day.
Superintendent Mark Denman said the district will post the Liberty position early in the second semester, if not before then. He hopes to fill the position by July 1.
The administrative shuffling was prompted when current North Ridge Principal Jason Bletzinger turned in his official resignation on Tuesday.
Denman said Bletzinger — who has led the middle school since July 2011 and previously was the top administrator of South View Middle School and Meade Park Elementary School — accepted an assistant superintendent's job at Richland-Bean Blossom Community Schools in Ellettsville, Ind.
"We congratulate him and wish him well in his new venture," Denman said.
Denman said he didn't post the North Ridge opening, but instead chose to offer the position to Rice, due to the timing.
"Because this happened mid-year, we would have gotten very few applicants," said Denman, who took the same route when filling the East Park position. "These two have proven they have the experience, knowledge base, leadership skills, interpersonal skills and loyalty to our district to excel in these positions of higher responsibility."
"I really appreciate their willingness to make this change in the middle of the school year," he continued, echoing a sentiment made earlier by board members.
Both Brooks and Rice said they enjoy working with staff, students and parents at their current schools. But they're eager to take on new responsibilities at their old "homes."
"I feel like I'm going home," said Brooks, who taught third and fifth grades at East Park for seven years before becoming an administrator.
She started out teaching second grade at Liberty in 2000, became an administrative intern in 2008, North Ridge's assistant principal in 2008 and Liberty's chief in 2009.
Rice was North Ridge's dean of students for one year. Prior to that, he spent 13 years as a science and/or social studies teacher at Mary Miller Junior High School in Georgetown and then South View. He was appointed assistant principal at East Park in 2008, and was promoted to principal the following year.
Both Brooks and Rice said they don't believe the transition to their new jobs will be too difficult since the principals of all eight elementaries, the two middle school and high school work closely together.
"We all have the same goal, and that's to make sure our kids are successful," Brooks said.