Students get to help pick the principal

April 14, 1994|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County school administrators, parents, teachers and even students will be interviewing candidates for principals' jobs in 13 schools this weekend, continuing a process of community involvement started last spring amid considerable criticism.

At each school, a committee of 10 will interview at least three, and as many as six, applicants. Each group then will recommend its top two choices. If the committee does not find any applicant suitable, it may say that, too, but the group may not pick just one person. Applicants will interview at more than one school.

The vacancies at two high schools, three middle schools and eight elementary schools are the result of retirements, voluntary transfers and reassignments, said Steve Walts, assistant superintendent for human resources. The PTA president at each school is heading a committee, which will include parents, teachers, a community leader, a member of the school support staff and students in the secondary schools.

Last year, Dr. Berger started a similar process for screening applicants for principalships and administrative jobs at school system headquarters. Though some committees were happy with the outcomes, others were not, complaining that their choices were ignored when the final decision was made.

Mr. Walts said the process had been changed to avoid such problems this year. The 16 applicants from within the school system have been pre-screened by Dr. Berger's staff; the 14 other applicants from around the country will be interviewed by administrators and their resumes and references verified. They will progress to school interviews only if the administrators approve them.

"We try to learn from our past experiences," said Mr. Walts, referring to an incident last year where an applicant chosen by at least one school did not live up to his resume and was not hired. "We think we've taken a good process and made it better. It's an exciting opportunity for people to have a real impact in choosing someone for their schools."

This year's process involves only principals. The schools interviewing are: Pikesville and Owings Mills high schools; Cockeysville, Franklin and Johnnycake middle schools, and Colgate, Deer Park, Edgemere, Lansdowne, Middleborough, Padonia, Perry Hall and Winand elementary schools. Parents and teachers at Ridge/Ruxton School will interview applicants later in the spring.

The superintendent's staff will consider the committees' recommendations and present its choices to the school board for approval in May. Some principals' vacancies will be filled without committee involvement, Mr. Walts said.

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