For Kenneth Kraemer, joining the New Albany-Plain Local School District was an opportunity to continue building his career in education.

Kraemer, a Westerville resident who last week was hired as New Albany High School principal, said he was familiar with the district's academic excellence.

"Once they reached out to me, I was quick to apply," said Kraemer, who has served as Licking Heights High School principal for almost five years.

The school district began the search for a new high school principal after Dwight Carter announced in December that he planned to resign after the school year ended, said Superintendent Michael Sawyers.

"It's an important position," Sawyers said. "You don't rush to fill it."

The school board on April 23 unanimously approved a two-year contract for Kraemer from Aug. 1 through July 31, 2020.

He will have an annual salary of $120,000, according to the contract.

His total compensation -- salary and benefits combined -- will be $151,264.80, according to district spokesman Patrick Gallaway. In comparison, Carter's total compensation was $154,289.12, according to Gallaway.

In the initial application process, 45 people expressed interest, Sawyers said, with 38 people applying and the district reaching out to several others, such as Kraemer, to ask them to apply.

The district then invited a dozen people from that pool to take part in interviews, Sawyers said. After four rounds of interviews, three finalists participated in a community conversation with students, staff members, community members and parents before a final selection was made.

Including Kraemer, the two other finalists were Yenetta Harper and Jason Conrad, Sawyers said.

Harper is director of teacher and principal development and evaluation with Cincinnati Public Schools; Conrad is principal of Perry High School in Massillon.

But Sawyers said Kraemer was the candidate best aligned with the district's vision, specifically with his focus on the growth and academic outcomes for every student.

Kraemer was principal at Licking Heights since July 2013. Prior to that, he served as assistant principal and then principal at Belmont High School in Dayton. Before his administrative work, he was a social-studies teacher at Dayton Technology Design High School.

He earned a bachelor's degree in education from Bowling Green State University and a master's degree in educational leadership from the University of Cincinnati.

Kraemer said his priorities as New Albany High School principal include building a strong culture and relationships.

"It's very important to build a strong culture," he said.

In addition to building trust among staff members, a principal must create rapport within the entire school district and the community, he said.

Meanwhile, Carter will depart after four years as principal at the high school, Sawyers said.

Carter said his pending departure is bittersweet.

After coaching and leading professional-learning activities in Ohio and other states over the past few years, he found he has enjoyed helping educators and seeing the effect he could make on education beyond his position as principal, he said.

Carter said he also decided to join Dynamix LLC -- a Columbus-based consulting agency that works with schools and districts to improve effectiveness and accomplish strategic goals, according to its website -- because it will allow him more time with his daughter, who starts kindergarten in the fall.

"I want to be present for her like I've been for so many other children the last 24 years," he said.