Southwest Licking Superintendent Forest Yocum said a downside of retiring July 31 is he won't have the opportunity to work with the district's two newest principals.

Southwest Licking Superintendent Forest Yocum said a downside of retiring July 31 is he won't have the opportunity to work with the district's two newest principals.

"I'm really excited about the quality of the two candidates," he said.

The Southwest Licking school board July 9 voted 3-0, with Dave Engel and Cindy Zaino absent, to offer two-year contracts to new Kirkersville Elementary School Principal Alissa Horstman and new Pataskala Elementary School Principal Bradley Wehrman, both of whom officially begin Aug. 1.

Yocum said Horstman replaces Nichole Jiran, who left to become superintendent of Hopewell Loudon Schools in Bascom, near Tiffin. Horstman will earn $82,217 per year.

Wehrman replaces Denise Staffilino, who retired. Wehrman will earn $79,172 per year.

ThisWeek was unable to reach Treasurer Richard Jones about the value of their benefits packages before press time last week.

Yocum said he was pleased that the candidates are from Licking County: Wehrman is from Licking Valley and Horstman worked for North Fork Schools through the Licking County Educational Service Center.

He said about 40 people applied for the two principal positions combined and most candidates were well qualified.

Yocum said staff and community members were involved in narrowing the list down to three candidates, which a hiring committee reviewed.

"We had 100 percent agreement about which ones we wanted and at which school they would be," he said. "We had a number of very highly qualified people apply for those positions. We were quite surprised at the caliber of the applicants. It was a very difficult decision to make because there were so many good ones."

"I'm very pleased and very supportive of this recommendation," said incoming Superintendent Robert Jennell, who will start working full time Aug. 1, but was involved with the hiring process.

In other news, Kristi Thompson, director of curriculum and instruction, was hired as superintendent of Liberty Center Local Schools near Bowling Green. Her last day is July 31 and her position is yet to be filled.

"We're losing three administrators and two are becoming superintendents," Yocum said. "We have some very good talent we're losing."