High school principal search comes up short Hard to attract candidates for 'thankless' job

June 09, 1998|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Carroll school officials are inviting more candidates to apply for the principal's position at North Carroll High School because a search failed to attract enough qualified applicants.

Superintendent Brian L. Lockard directed school personnel staff to initiate another search after seven candidates applied for the position. North Carroll High Principal Kent Kreamer announced his intention to step down in April.

"A secondary high school principal has a somewhat thankless role because of the nature of the job and the hours," Lockard said. "But there are quality people out there and hopefully we can encourage them to apply."

Carroll's difficulty in filling the North Carroll position reflects a nationwide problem of attracting qualified applicants for principal vacancies.

According to a study completed this year by two school administrators' groups, half of the 400 school leaders interviewed reported a shortage of qualified applicants when they filled at least one principalship in the past year.

Inadequate salaries, job stress and demands on time were some of the most frequent reasons noted in the study to explain the growing shortage. The study was conducted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

"The NASSP and the NAESP are concerned about the growing issue of principal supply and demand," the report states. "Stories abound about schools with principal positions they cannot fill, retired principals being called back to full-time service, and districts being forced to go to ever-greater lengths to recruit qualified candidates."

Lockard said elementary- and secondary-level positions are demanding, but high school principals have particularly difficult responsibilities. Educators said they had enough applicants for principal positions at four elementaries -- Carrolltowne, Mount Airy, Eldersburg and Winfield.

"People look at the number of night activities and the nature of the problems of older children," Lockard said. "I'm not saying the problems aren't difficult at the elementary level, but many times they become more serious at the secondary level."

Kreamer found being principal didn't leave him enough time to write his doctoral dissertation on education administration.

"Being a high school principal is a full-time job and then some," said Kreamer, who became principal at North Carroll High three and a half years ago.

He said the duties of a high school principal frequently extend beyond the school day into evenings and weekends, requiring attendance at sports events, music and drama productions, parent group meetings and award ceremonies.

"It really got to the point where I could no longer continue the [doctoral] program," said Kreamer, who will remain in the school system as an assistant principal at a yet-to-be determined high school.

School personnel officials advertised the North Carroll High principal post May 15 in local newspapers, at all county schools, all Maryland school systems and the State Department of Education.

The seven responses didn't provide "a broad enough pool of applicants," said William Rooney, director of personnel for county schools.

Rooney said the job was advertised a second time May 29 in the original places, and in a Washington newspaper. The application deadline is June 26.

He said the school system has received 14 applications since the second notices went out.

The job qualifications include a master's degree, at least three years of "outstanding" teaching experience at the secondary school level and "outstanding" interpersonal communications skills.

"It's a very, very demanding position, both in time and in effort," said Rooney.

Once the superintendent determines a sufficient number of people have applied, a screening committee will meet to decide which candidates to interview. The committee, chaired by secondary schools supervisor Gregory Eckles, usually includes parent representatives, teachers, a curriculum supervisor and a personnel representative.

Typically, the committee interviews about six candidates and sends three choices to the superintendent, who makes a recommendation to the school board.

In his new position as director of Western Maryland College's graduate program of school administration, Lockard said he would like to address the shortage of applicants for secondary school administrator positions.

Pub Date: 6/09/98

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