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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Closing and/or Revolving Door

Two issues presented themselves in separate forums recently that, together, form an interesting view on the status of public school leadership.

During the May meeting of the Board of Directors of the CASDA Principals Center, while discussing the changes and challenges facing principals, a colleague reported that an area college, noted for their preparation of school administrators, has experienced a rather significant decline in enrollment. That may be considered a reflection on the economic impact of reductions to administrative staff in school districts throughout the region, as well as the increasing breadth and depth of stress confronting principals.

At a Chief School Officer's meeting that same month, I looked around the room at the assembled superintendents and counted the number of my peers who have arrived at their positions since I started as the superintendent of Green Island on July 1, 2010. There are twenty-three component school districts within our BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). Counting the district I serve, thirteen of these twenty-three school systems have district-wide leaders who were not in their present position prior to July 1, 2010 - just three short years ago today.

There may be several different reasons contributing to this turnover of superintendents and the diminished interest people have in becoming principals, but one cannot rule out the distinct possibility that the rate of externally imposed changes (drastic loss of revenue and the resulting cuts in budgets, programs, and personnel; Common Core Curriculum and state mandated assessments - and their link to teacher evaluation; volatile political climates; and the whole demand to do more with less) have created an environment that is not perceived as enticing to prospective leaders. The net effect of fairly frequent changes in building and district leaders can be problematic to developing and sustaining the culture and momentum necessary to promote progress.

It will be interesting to examine the long-term consequences of this matter.

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