On the eve of the start of the new school year, the Franklin County Schools find themselves looking for a new principal.
In an Aug. 4 letter to Superintendent Nina Marks, Kris Bray wrote that she would be resigning “with a heavy heart” as principal over the kindergarten through 12 grade school.
“It has become clear to me that the physical and mental demands of the position to continue to impede my recovery from the incident that took place during the 2015-16 school year,” she wrote. “I thank you in advance for understanding that I based this decision on what is best for me and my family. It was difficult because during ym educational career, I have attempted to solely base my decisions on what is best for students.”
Bray missed much of the second half of the last school year, after she sustained a back injury in late 2015 when she was struck accidentally while breaking up a fight between students. In the second year of a two-year contract, she returned this summer to her post.
During her absence, Bray's workload had been handled by a crew of administrators, including Sue Summers, who serves as the district's director of special programs, and Assistant Principal Harolyn Walker.
Walker has since returned to teaching. At the start of the summer, the district hired Jill Rudd, from Sopchoppy, to serve as assistant principal, at an annual salary of $65,392.
“I think were fortunate that we have Jill Rudd as assistant,” said Human Resource Director Karen Peddie. “She's proving to be a critical thinker, she's thinking outside the box. I think she's going to be a great asset.”
At a special meeting Tuesday, called to approve a handful of new hires, Marks told the school board that a search has begun to select Bray's replacement.
“We will not be automatically moving anyone around within the faculty this time,” she said. “People are already calling in, interested.”
Marks said Bray is spending this week working on teacher orientation, and will be on hand next week, when students return to school.
Peddie said that in accepting Bray's resignation, which the board did at Monday's morning, it was releasing her from the terms of her existing contract.
Peddie said the district has begun advertising for the required 10 days, and that it will be posted through Aug. 19. She said the entire time frame for hiring could be less than six weeks.  She said she has contacted the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC) for assistance, and that she expects interviews to begin next week.
“We're going to hire someone with experience,” said Peddie. “Chances are that person will need to submit a notice to their district.”
School board member Teresa Ann Martin wished Bray well, and encouraged Peddie to find the best possible candidate. “I want to make sure we hire somebody that's very well-qualified and who can communicate very well with teachers, staff and students as well as parents.”
'There's a very positive atmosphere out there,” Martin said. “I know without a shadow of a doubt it will be a great year. I'm looking forward to it.”
Peddie said the district has completed 19 new hires for instructional positions for the upcoming school year.
“I'm thankful for Allison (Chipman) every day. We're humming along,” she said. “We still have a few loose ends to tie up.”