This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic.

The Caldwell County Board of Education did not hire a new principal for Oak Hill School on Monday night. Instead, Renae Clark will continue as interim principal until June 30, 2014.

Brian Oliver, who was appointed Oak Hill’s principal July 15, stepped down in August to accept a position as executive director of administration for the McDowell County Schools. Clark, a former principal at Dudley Shoals Elementary and Hudson Elementary, has served as interim principal since then.

The Caldwell County Schools received 25 applications for principal and interviewed seven of those candidates. But interviewers wanted “more time to expand the field of candidates,” Superintendent Steve Stone said at the Board of Education meeting Monday.The plan to retain Clark as interim was approved by the Oak Hill principal search committee, which included two Oak Hill teachers, one Oak Hill teacher assistant and two central-office staff members.

It can be difficult to fill administrative positions mid-year, Stone said.

“We liked some of the candidates but were a little concerned about whether or not they would be able to come during the middle of the year and whether or not they would be able to make that long-term commitment,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for – a long-term commitment to Oak Hill.”

When all other things are equal, the school system gives preference to internal candidates for principal positions, Stone said.

Community Services Director Libby Brown said hiring from within mid-year can cause a “ripple effect” – one position is filled and creates another vacancy.

“You have the challenge of trying not to disrupt the organization within a school – and when you have a vacancy of a principal, sometimes some of the best candidates come from within your own district.”