Principals Wanted: Apply Just About Anywhere

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Ask superintendents whether they're having trouble finding principals, and the frustration comes pouring out.

"I have a real fear of where we're going to get the next generation of building-level administrators—fear and concern," said Robert L. Urzillo, the superintendent of the 3,300-student Phoenixville, Pa., district just outside Philadelphia. "There are not a lot of candidates out there."

Cindy Miner knows that firsthand. The superintendent of the 1,700-student Sodus Central School District in upstate New York is currently doubling as a high school principal. "We have been unable to fill the position," she said, despite having advertised since June. "Over the last three years, we've had to advertise for a principal or an assistant principal three times, and the pickings out there are very slim."

"You don't have a lot of teachers right now who are even interested in becoming administrators," said Brenda S. Dietrich, the superintendent of the 3,800-student Hampden-Wilbrahan district in western Massachusetts."The appeal is not there."

Moreover, administrators are quick to tick off a list of just what's wrong with the job.

"Our school committees have yet to embrace the idea that if you want quality school leaders, you've got to do something with salary," said Ken J. Murphy, the superintendent of the 1,500-student Yarmouth public schools just outside Portland, Maine.

Though some districts, such as Mr. Murphy's, are trying to "grow" their own candidates, it's the job description itself that may be the problem.

"It's definitely not an 8-to-5 job," said Albrie Love Jr., the director of recruitment, retention, and eligibility for the Baltimore public schools.

Ms. Dietrich agrees. "The job continues to grow and take on many more dimensions than in the past," she explained. "It's an incredible job."

"Long term, I think we need to really look at the job itself," said Daniel E. Curry, the superintendent of the 14,500-student Woods County schools in West Virginia. "There are demands on principals that didn't exist before. We may have to rethink the whole role of the principal and perhaps provide some additional help."

—Lynn Olson

Vol. 19, Issue 17, Page 16

Published in Print: January 12, 2000, as Principals Wanted: Apply Just About Anywhere
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