Citing an inability to find just the right leader to replace a legend, St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard has opted to name an interim principal at Central High for 2019-20.

Mary Mackbee is retiring after more than 50 years at the helm, and two searches have failed to produce the “right candidate,” Gothard wrote in a message to families.

He said he is tapping George Nolan, most recently the director of personalized learning for Stillwater Area schools, to be Central’s interim leader as the district prepares to relaunch the search early next year.

“Dr. Nolan brings a wealth of experience in helping all students feel represented and accepted for who they are,” Gothard wrote. He noted Nolan’s strong support of special education programming as well as his skill in designing challenging curriculum and managing International Baccalaureate programming.

Nolan holds a doctoral degree in education leadership from the University of North Dakota.

Mackbee has been on a victory lap of sorts in recent weeks.

At a school board meeting in March during which it was agreed that Central’s auditorium would be named in her honor, Board Member John Brodrick said that the name Mary Mackbee is “magic.”

She will work with Nolan to ensure a smooth transition and strong start to the new school year, Gothard wrote in his note to families.