The Licking Heights school board on June 23 named Nelson McCray, director of the Licking County Educational Services Center, as interim superintendent.

The Licking Heights school board on June 23 named Nelson McCray, director of the Licking County Educational Services Center, as interim superintendent.

McCray will serve pending the resignation of Thomas Tucker, who will become superintendent of Worthington City Schools on Aug. 1.

Compensation for McCray's service will fall under the district's contract with the ESC. McCray was interim superintendent during the period three years ago before Tucker was hired.

"You need to have somebody watching over things who is responsible and work with the board and treasurer just to keep things going until the real superintendent is in place," he said.

McCray, who has been at the ESC for 14 years, previously served as superintendent of Beaver Local near East Liverpool for seven years, Genoa near Toledo for three years and Monroeville for four years.

Board president Matt Satterwhite said the appointment would allow Tucker to use the month of July for vacation days.

"This gives Dr. Tucker some time to enjoy some vacation and prepare for his next position," Satterwhite said. "We've always had a good relationship with Licking County ESC and Dr. McCray has always stepped up to serve. It's essentially the month of July."

Satterwhite said the board still intends to name a new superintendent by Aug. 1, in time for the start of the school year.

"We hope so," Satterwhite said. "Applications are due July 8 or 9. Pretty soon we can start to meet people (as individual board members) and try to get an idea of whether they would be a good fit and whether they should talk to the entire board."

However, Satterwhite said, the board was not committed to finding a replacement by Aug. 1 unless the right candidate is found.

"We're open to everything," Satterwhite said. "We're hoping to find someone who can serve by Aug. 1, but if we don't find the right person, we're not going to act just for the sake of acting. We're not closing any doors or saying this must happen by Aug. 1."

Having an official superintendent in place ensures that administrative duties can be carried out without any ambiguity, Satterwhite said.

"We just want to make it clear the acting superintendent is Dr. McCray, so there is no confusion, so someone who looks at our minutes can see there is someone with official capacity there," Satterwhite said.

In other business, Steve Dzuranin of Fanning/Howie Associates, an architectural firm, said construction on the planned expansion at West Elementary would begin shortly, with the movement of existing utility services to accommodate construction activities.

"We are on schedule for the West Elementary School addition," Dzuranin said. "We have out to bid the remaining packages for the trades, mechanical, electrical, etc., to be bid in the coming weeks."

Contracts should be awarded and construction should start by early August, with full occupancy scheduled for August 2012.