With the school starting on Aug. 26, Supt. Bernadeia Johnson on Friday announced the filling of key vacancies supervising classrooms and computers.

Johnson is bringing Susanne Griffin-Ziebart back to Minnesota as the district's chief academic officer, replacing Emily Puetz, who resigned at the end of the last school year for family reasons. That position oversees the district's efforts at academic improvement.

Griffin-Ziebart is deputy superintendent for Bibb County schools in Macon, Ga., where she was responsible for school improvement and redesign, and was the acting superintendent.  She previously worked in Rochester schools as speech pathologist and an elementary principal for 23 years.

The district also filled another key academic appointment by elevating South High School Principal Cecilia Saddler to associate superintendent for the district's southwest schools.  She replaces Theresa Battle, who left the district in June to return to St. Paul schools. Saddler has been South principal for four years, and has also served an assistant principal there, as well as principal and assistant principal at Folwell Middle School.  She has also taught at South and two middle schools.

The distirct's associate superintendents work the district's academic improvement efforts with schools and principals within their areas. Johnson said substitute principal Willarene Beasley will serve as interim principal at South while the district searches for a new principal for South.

Rich Valerga as the new chief information officer will try to jumpstart the district's information technology agenda, which has suffered through repeated turnover in leadership.  Don Hall, the district’s previous chief information officer, left this spring after only a few months on the job. He went to the Manatee County, Fla., district to become its deputy superintendent, following Rick Mills, formerly Johnson's CEO, who now heads Manatee schools. Hall's predecessor, David Mayor, died in mid-2012 after only eight months on the job. Colleen Kosloski, a key IT player for the district, also has retired.

The district also confirmed the appointment of Ubah Medical Academy associate drector Patrick Exner as Washburn High School's new principal, making official what had leaked out earlier in the week.

(Photo above: Bernadeia Johnson)