School board weighs plan to add staff Policy would allow assistant principals at more elementaries

'Giving principal a hand'

Staff proposal would ease criteria for appointing deputy

May 28, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

For five years, Richard Huss, principal of Charles Carroll Elementary School, has asked the county school board to appoint an assistant principal to his school.

The response was always the same: Charles Carroll doesn't have enough students to justify a second administrator.

That answer may change if the school board adopts a proposal to put more assistant principals at the county's smallest and largest schools. The school board is expected to vote on the staff recommendation at its meeting June 10.

Under the revised guidelines, Charles Carroll, the smallest county school with 376 students, would be eligible for a part-time assistant principal. Existing policy requires an elementary school to have 550 students to receive a second administrator.

"I just don't think the situation exists anymore where you cannot have a second person as a regular fallback when the principal is out of the building," said Huss. "It's not fair to expect a teacher, guidance counselor or some other staff member to have to be pulled away from children in order to fulfill the principal's responsibility."

The situation at Charles Carroll prompted the board to ask school system staff to review the policies.

"If we have a school large enough to run for a group of children, then we need someone giving the principal a hand," said board member Carolyn Scott.

In addition to the proposed change for elementaries. school officials have recommended that middle schools with 450 students be eligible for full-time assistant principals. Currently, middle schools must have at least 600 students to get a full-time second administrator.

The new regulations would put full-time assistant principals at New Windsor and Mount Airy middle schools. Both schools now have teaching or part-time assistant principals.

Fifth assistant

The recommendations also include a provision that would allow high schools to hire a fifth assistant principal when enrollment exceeds 2,400. The only school affected would be Westminster High School, which is projected to have a student population of more than 2,600 in three years.

"It's just not thinkable that we could end up with a school that large without another assistant principal," said Gary Dunkleberger, assistant superintendent of instruction, who was involved in creating the proposal.

Dorothy Mangle, supervisor of elementary schools, said elementary school principals are frequently pulled from the day-to-day operations of the school because of increased responsibilities.

Mangle said principals may spend part of the day in a conference about a special education student or at a central office meeting for administrators. Meanwhile, there are discipline problems and parental concerns that need attention.

"You can't predict when these things are going to happen, but it's a rare day when they don't happen regularly," Huss said.

Under the proposed guidelines, elementary schools with enrollments of 250 to 549 students would be eligible for a teaching assistant principal who would spend half the day teaching small groups of children and the rest of the day handling administrative matters.

Teachers' duties

Besides running the school in his absence, Huss said, a second administrator could take over some duties handled by Charles Carroll teachers.

He said the school's reading teacher took on the additional job of coordinating the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests, which were given earlier this month.

"If I had to guess the amount of time she spent on that over the past month, I think it would surely be in the 50-plus [hours] range," Huss said.

Elementary school principals are supporting a change in the recommendations to make the criteria for assigning full-time assistant principals at elementary and middle schools the same.

School staff recommended that a middle school be eligible for a full-time assistant principal when enrollment exceeds 450, while an elementary school population would have to be more than 550 to warrant a full-time second administrator.

Mangle said she supports setting the same enrollment requirement for elementary and middle schools.

"The discrepancy was a concern to elementary principals who truly believe their responsibilities are certainly different [than middle school principals] because of the age of the children. However, they certainly do not feel they have fewer or less demanding challenges," Mangle said.

Dunkleberger said a lower threshold for middle schools was proposed because "older children present more challenges."

Pub Date: 5/28/98

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