The district is reaching into the ranks of South High School parents to fill a long-open principal post at the school.

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson Friday announced the appointment of Ray Aponte, who is a South parent two times over as well as an experienced elementary and middle grades principal in several district schools.

The timing of the appointment means that the district wil be filling a vacancy it created just before the school year began with an appointment made just after students and teachers have finished the school year. The appointment was made about a month after the district's previously announced timetable, in part because additional candidates were interviewed.

The appointment fills the second major hole in the district's principal ranks, the other being the naming of Rhonda Dean as Washburn High School principal last month. The district still has 10 other principal jobs it needs to fill, several of them vacancies created recently by promoting principals to district administrative posts.

Aponte has been principal at Northrop Environmental Learning Center, a prekindergarten-8 school cited this school year by the Minnesota Department of Education for its academic record. He spent 10 years at Jefferson preK-8, and also has been a principal at Andersen pre-K-8 and Waite Park preK-5 schools. He has also been assistant principal at Northeast Middle School and Sheridan preK-5.

Aponte has a son who just graduated from the high school, and a daughter who will be a junior next school year. He has a reputation as a principal who interacts eaily with students. According ot the district, he was named volunteer of the year by the city's park system in 2003.

The district created the South vacancy by elevating former principal Cecilia Saddler to associate superintendent. Willarene Beasley served as South's interim principal.