RIO RANCHO – Nine days before the start of the 2023-24 school year in the City of Vision, Rio Rancho High School is without a principal.

That’s because Ryan Kettler, about to start his fourth year at the helm, was chosen the evening of July 25 to be the new superintendent of Los Lunas School.

Rio Rancho Public Schools isn’t pushing the panic button.

“We’re opening (the vacancy) right away, with interviews as soon as (this) week,” said Beth Pendergrass, chief communications, strategy and engagement officer with RRPS, the day after Kettler was appointed Los Lunas Schools’ new superintendent. “We’re working with him on a transition plan. We wish him the best.”

Away on vacation, Rio Rancho Public Schools Board of Education President Amanda Galbraith said she didn’t expect any problems. “We have a wonderful staff at RRHS, and I know they will get the new school year off and running with no issue,” she said.

Like Pendergrass, she said she was “grateful for Dr. Kettler’s service as principal for RRHS over the last three years. He has done a wonderful job and I am sad to see him go. I wish him the best.”

The Los Lunas school board began the search for a new superintendent in early June following the retirement of Arsenio Romero, now secretary of the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Deborah Elder, chief academic officer of curriculum, assessment and innovation for Los Lunas Schools, was appointed interim superintendent at the beginning of March and will return to her existing role within LLS.

Kettler said he was overjoyed to learn he was selected as the superintendent and that he’s ready to have a good school year.

“I’m really excited and can’t wait to get started,” Kettler told the Valencia County News-Bulletin. “I hear nothing but great things about the schools in Los Lunas and the community in general, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the staff at all our schools.

“I want to get to know people and start building relationships, trust and collaboration so that we can continue to move Los Lunas Schools forward and make it the best possible place we can for students in Los Lunas.”

Kettler described himself in his résumé as “an innovative leader focused on engaging with students, educators and school communities to meet learning objectives and drive student progress.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in physical education, a Master of Science degree in kinesiology and a PhD in physical education. Kettler also teaches classes through Southwestern University in Hobbs regarding legal and ethical issues in exercise and sports sciences, operations and fiscal management and instructional leadership.

Kettler was a vice principal prior to becoming the principal at Rio Rancho High School. Throughout his career, he has held multiple assistant principal roles at a variety of schools in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, including at Cleveland High School.

His wife, Jessica, had most recently been the principal at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary but is no longer with RRPS, Pendergrass said.

“All the applicants were excited to apply in our district, and that’s what I want, for us to be a premier district,” said LLS board president Tina Garcia. “We struggle sometimes, internally and externally, but I’m very pleased this board worked very professionally to get to a resolution, and I’m so happy that Dr. Elder saw us through this process and stood by us as we got to this place, and I thank everybody who played a role in getting us to today’s decision.”

Kettler was among the three finalists for the superintendent position, which included himself, Elena Trodden and Curtis Clough.