About this time every year, a few veteran principals announce their retirement from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. This time it's Lawrance Mayes at Marie G. Davis Military and Global Leadership Academy, Halina Robertson at Piney Grove Elementary and Dee Gardner at Piedmont IB Middle, all retiring March 1.
Each time, I hear questions about the timing. Why not wait until the end of the school year? Are they being forced out?
I asked Gardner about the March exodus. She said the fact that February is a short month confers a small benefit in calculation of benefits (I've heard this explained before, and it's too complex for me to attempt to convey.) But that's not the biggest factor, Gardner said.
That's consistent with what former Superintendent Peter Gorman heard when he started recruiting principals for Stragetic Staffing schools. The first year, he made the changes at the end of a school year. Those principals told him that was too late to make a strong start, and the next time around, he put new leaders in place by March 1.
Changes in school leadership tend to rattle the families who care about those schools. Some worry about the disruption as teachers and students are gearing up for final exams. But Gardner said that by the time second semester is under way, a principal's hardest work is done. "Everything is in place between now and the last day of school," she said.