Thursday, February 21, 2013

Principal retirements: Why now?

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.

At 68,  with 25 years working for CMS and 22 years before that as an educator in upstate New York,  Gardner had decided this would be her last year.  She said Dawn Robinson,  her zone superintendent,  convinced her this was the right time,  so a replacement can get the lay of the land in time for summer planning and next year's hiring.

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.


Anonymous said...

Given the track record of CMS, it's no wonder that more aren't retiring in the middle of the year. CMS provides little to no support (moral or otherwise) to employees. Many upper level CMS long time employees have their retirement game plans and dates ready to pull the trigger. The February date does allow the six months required by the state to be out of the system before returning as an interim or substitute. What is the obligation for someone to complete a entire year? Every time a CEO is changed the two hackneyed expressions "to pursue other opportunities" or "spend time with my family" are in every press release. Teachers and administrators are expected to adhere to some higher moral obligation to complete an entire school year? When financial, family, and personal growth are concerned, a valued and experienced educator should do as they wish. They earned it. A superb former assistant principal summed it up nicely with a NC license tag on the back of her vehicle, BYE CMS.

Anonymous said...

I hear CMS is one of the hardest districts to work for becuase of the administration. The amount of work that is put in vs the pay is not worth it. Teachers get paid 34k after 5 years of working there is unexceptable. The few good principles CMS have leave or retire. Im not sure how they pick their principles but I question 8 out of the 10 that I have met. No , im not a parent or a teacher. Im a young professional that has volunteered at many different schools over the last 5 years.

Anonymous said...

The principal is your pal..not principle..professional?

Anonymous said...

Why do people try to make every retirement by a longtime principal into a conspiracy? Perhaps they are retiring because they have worked for 30 yrs plus and now they want to retire.. WHY NOT WAIT TILL THE END OF THE YEAR?.. Perhaps because they have accrued so many sick days and the state buys them back and it puts them in a particular month to retire. It is all pretty basic. Some will actually make more in retirement than as an employee. Retirement is based on the avg. of the last 3 yrs. of work, if wages are cut or reduced, so is the retirement. Many of these folks would have retired 2 years ago but they waited for a pay value and small raise this year compared to none for 5 years. Principals and administrators don't leave education because of changes in a district and new policies being implemented.... That moral ship sailed years ago for administration positions 3 years after they leave the classroom. Admin positions are nothing but Compliance Officers and they all know it.

dscienceguy said...

Retirement income in education is based on several items. One of them is the average of four consecutive years of highest pay. This could come in the first four years or the middle somewhere on the way to thirty years (before age 60). Usually in the last four years due to step increases and supplement pay increases (step increases no longer happening now), the pay is highest for four consecutive years.

John said...

I completely buy the explaination given. I have a friend who runs a private school and she recently told us this is her busiest time of year because now is when all the planning begins for the next school year.

Leaving now allows the replacement to be engaged earlier in the planning.

Anonymous said...

The principal's retirement is timed to
rape the system for the maximum amount of money possible. Any small business of any type would go under quickly if these rules and regulations were followed. Just another of the mind-boggling waste and inefficiency of our wonderful government.

Anonymous said...

Rape of Taxpayers from inept administrators with 6 figure salaries.

$100,000 + pension with NO RESULTS

Craig Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Principals are frequently encouraged to announce retirements at this time of the year, as central office administration begins interviewing potential candidates within the district.
This is also the time of year when some districts allow Assistant Principals and/or Principals to request transfers to different levels (elementary to middle, etc.).

Therefore, it is common to have announced retirements in the middle of the year.

Craig Smith said...

There is no conspiracy here; It's simple Human Resource protocol.

Wouldn't you rather have the leader of a company announce well-in-advance their intention to retire and/or leave, providing ample time to find a replacement?

Early-spring is typically when school districts (especially large districts) begin interviewing potential Principal candidates for the upcoming school-year. Identifying and naming a new principal must occur well-before the end of the school year.

Anonymous said...

To say principals rape the system when they leave and take retirement is like saying tax payers rape the country by taking tax code deductions. Teachers did not write the retirement requirements. Most long term educators made below private sector wages for most of their careers. They earned their retirement.

Anonymous said...

Phys Ed teachers getting $70,000.+ is not below private sector wages for PE majors. Way overpaid when compared to what should be the max for phys ed.