Centennial Schools will hold off hiring a new, permanent principal for Blue Heron Elementary until the district gets the results of a first-ever facilities and demographics study. District enrollment has declined 8 percent over the past nine years.

The district has appointed Jason W. Hartmann as interim principal. Dan Melde, the Blue Heron's outgoing principal, will become the district's director of human resources.

"The District is undergoing a long-range facilities study that may impact leadership in the future," said Superintendent Keith Dixon, in a written statement.

Centennial has hired Nexus Solutions to conduct the facilities and enrollment analysis at a cost of $75,000. It will look at school boundaries and building capabilities and it will make demographic projections. District enrollment climbed steadily for two decades starting in 1983. It peaked in 2003 with 7,000 students before falling to 6,400 in 2012.

"As time passes, teaching methods evolve and we want to ensure the best environments for our students and teachers in order to maintain academic excellence," said district spokeswoman Krista Bergert.

Another goal is to figure out ways to improve efficiency and reduce utility and operating costs, Bergert said.

Currently, the district includes five elementary schools for grades K-5, one middle school for grades 6-8 and one high school.

Hartmann has been an elementary principal with North Branch Schools since 2009 and served as an assistant principal for Big Lake schools from 2007 to 2009. □