Principals in motion at Washington County schools this summer

July 01, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Almost half of Washington County's public schools will be welcoming a new principal and/or assistant principal in the coming school year.

School officials say the number of moves is typical, and beneficial because new principals bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to their new schools. Meanwhile, assistant principals are exposed to different management styles, which helps prepare them to become principals.

Representatives from parent, teacher, and administrator groups, as well as top school system administrators, said the only drawback is that sometimes it can take some time for teachers, students and parents to become accustomed to a new principal.


"There might be some time for faculty and students to get used to a new principal," said Scott Nicewarner, incoming president of the Washington County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations and father of two students. "But I'm sure the principals can adapt to their new schools. It can't be anything but a positive. The principals we have in Washington County are quality people."

In the coming school year, there will be 25 principals or assistant principals in new positions. The moves mean that 19 of the 44 schools will have new principals and/or assistant principals. Of those 19 schools, four are getting new principals and assistant principals, three will see a new assistant principal but keep the existing principal, and 12 schools will welcome a new principal only.

The number of moves is higher than last year, when 14 schools started the year with new principals or assistant principals, said Donald Francis, schools director of human resources.

But in the previous year, 2000, there were 26 such job changes among principals and assistant principals, Francis said.

Last year was different because the school system was going through the transition from former Superintendent Herman Bartlett to Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, who came to the school system in July 2001.

"This is actually a pretty normal year," Francis said.

Morgan said in many cases the moves are caused in part by the promotion of current principals to positions in the school system central office or retirements, and the effect of filling those positions.

Morgan recommended the changes to the Washington County Board of Education, which approved most of the moves in May. The changes go into effect today.

Board member Paul W. Bailey was principal at Smithsburg Middle School from 1970 to 1989, but he said if he had to do it over again he would have wanted to move around to different schools.

"It's good to bring in fresh ideas," Bailey said.

Nina Garrett, treasurer of Washington County Teachers Association, said the association has no formal position on the moves.

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