My home town newspaper asks an interesting question about principals: Do schools need them full time?
The question arises because the large local school district in Tucson, Arizona is considering cutting back on administrative positions as one way to cope with their budget problems.
Some are poised to scale back on vice principals. Others are looking at half-time principals.
But that freedom to choose also means choosing no principal, if they can come up with a way to ensure duties typically carried out by principals are still completed.
On the layoff list the Governing Board approved Tuesday were seven principals; their site councils are still analyzing their options.
Could a school be successful without a full-time principal?
For that matter, would a teacher-run, completely principal-less school really be such a far-fetched idea?
After all, the original concept for the head of a school was for that person to be the “principal teacher”.
Their primary job was teaching students and being an instructional leader. Management of the school itself was a job shared with a small group of other teachers.
In our overly-large school district, however, the principals of most middle and high schools have no time for teaching these days.
With more than 1500 students, 100+ staff members, and a multi-million dollar physical plant, they are too busy being building and personnel managers to have much involvement with instruction.
So, we come back to the question of whether a school needs a full-time principal.
I’m not sure it does.
I think most people would agree that a successful school always has a talented leader. Usually that’s the principal but sometimes it’s not.
But they always have a leader who’s a full-time educator.