The long-term future of the principal position at East Elementary School is currently unknown as Moffat County School District officials made plans Tuesday to fill current principal Diana Cook's shoes while she is on a leave of absence.
School District superintendent Joe Petrone said Cook has been on leave since last week.
"Diana Cook is simply on leave, and that is as much as we're able to say right now," he said. "It's always something we need to be careful of because we are respecting her privacy."
In the interim, Petrone and assistant superintendent Christine Villard have alternated spending time at East so there is an administrator on site as often as possible.
"Our commitment is to have someone there every day," Petrone said. "Children deserve someone there on a daily basis and the faculty do, too, so that was our immediate strategy. But we've really been managing through this effectively because of good help by people who are willing."
He said sometimes meetings and other conflicts have made it difficult for someone to be at the building at all times, but he wanted to assure parents consistency was a priority.
On Tuesday, the district contacted former assistant superintendent Joel Sheridan, who retired from the school district this summer, and asked him to step in as an interim principal when he returns from his vacation Monday.
"We want the consistency of one person," he said. "So it's official that he will be joining us next week and will start as soon as he can. As we need to continue in that way, we will, and Joel has been kind enough to commit to continuing to the end of the year if need be."
Petrone could not state the reason for, nor the possible length of Cook's leave of absence, and preferred the focus be placed on the students' situation instead of one individual's.
"It's of a personal nature, and we would like to keep it that way," he said. "There is no more I can share than that."
He said the current focus is to keep parents and students informed.
A letter was sent home before fall break last week, and another letter will be sent home today with an updated plan for the interim appointment.
He said in the next few weeks he hopes to have teachers address their students about the change in administration at their school.
"It's important for children to be able to ask questions," he said.
As one of his first unexpected challenges since he came to the district in June, Petrone said it has been a difficult time, but he expects it will continue to be managed appropriately.
"It's certainly difficult to navigate in uncertain times," he said. "For a short time we weren't certain who would be covering. But Joel Sheridan is a veteran administrator, and we're delighted he's willing to help us out on such short notice."
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or firstname.lastname@example.org.