A familiar face will head the Del Norte County Unified School District's business department when the holidays are over.

Jeff Napier, who has been with the school district for about 20 years, is now the district's assistant superintendent of business services, Superintendent Don Olson said Tuesday. Napier replaces Jeff Caldwell, who was hired to the position last spring but recently resigned.

"Mr. Caldwell has resigned his position and has elected to move on from Crescent City," Olson said. "We appreciate what he did while he was here."

Caldwell replaced the late deputy superintendent Rodney Jahn as head of the district's business department, but he was not trained as a chief business officer, Olson said. A certified business officer is in charge of the entire budget and budgetary process as well as the district's finances.

Napier obtained his credentials as a chief business officer about two years ago but had commitments to Castle Rock Charter School when the district needed a new business department last school year, Olson said. Castle Rock is under the umbrella of the County Office of Education. Napier has been Castle Rock's principal for about a year and a half.

"Jeff has the training and expertise we need in that position," Olson said. "Mr. Jahn was here for 25 years. Rod was a very good CBO. He budgeted the money that enabled us to get through five to seven years of fiscal crisis."

During Jahn's tenure as deputy superintendent, the school district's budget has always received positive certifications from the California Department of Education, Olson said.

Jahn, who was on the verge of retirement, died unexpectedly last June.

Prior to Caldwell's hire, district officials tried to find a new chief business officer, expecting to get a strong pool of applicants, but only three applied for the job, Olson said. One candidate had eight jobs in 12 years and didn't show up for an interview. Another, who had the proper credentials, had been released from his last position and was being investigated for a personnel or fiscal issue, Olson said.

"We didn't fill the position right away," he said. "We advertised another month and didn't get any more applicants so we decided to take a chance to see what Mr. Caldwell could do. Mr. Caldwell is a very nice person to work with, but in a perfect world he didn't really have all the credentials behind him to step right in and do that job."

Napier has been a teacher and principal at Mountain School and Smith River School, Olson said. He was assistant principal at Del Norte High School for seven to eight years before becoming principal at Castle Rock.

Suzie Dooley, Castle Rock's dean of counseling and student services, will become the charter school's interim principal. Olson said the County Office of Education will begin seeking a new principal this month.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com.