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The House K-12 Education Committee moved a bill forward today that would study how to get better principals into North Carolina schools. 

Rep. Tricia Ann Cotham
Rep. Tricia Ann Cotham

The bill is titled, “Great Leaders for Great Schools/Study,” and the primary sponsors are Democrats Rep. Tricia Ann Cotham and Rep. Cecil Brockman, and Republican Rep. Craig Horn

Cotham said she came to the General Assembly as one of its only licensed principals, and she says North Carolina faces a crisis. 

“The role of the principal has change dramatically,” she said. “…They have to be a dynamic teacher, a great manager, they have to budget, they have to do discipline. It takes a lot of skills.” 

The bill instructs the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee to “study strategies for providing North Carolina with great leaders for great schools.” It sets out a number of initiatives that the committee is supposed to consider, including:

  • Recruiting the best performing leaders for administrative roles
  • More flexibility and autonomy for principals over school decisions
  • Compensation that will draw and keep principals and assistant principals at schools with the lowest achievement
  • And professional development to help them turn around low achieving schools

“We have to make sure that we have the best people lined up to take those jobs,” Cotham said. “And not that they want to take it for a raise or a title.” 

The plight of principals in schools is gaining more attention this session. Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman introduced a bill that would raise principal pay by 3 percent and would give a $2,000 bonus to principals in schools that exceed student achievement growth expectations. He has also said that he has plans to scrap the current principal salary schedule and let schools use the state funds to pay principals what they think they are worth. 

Cotham says a group of lawmakers, including herself, plan to introduce legislation that would more directly address principal programs.

The committee gave the “Great Leaders” bill a favorable vote, and it now moves to the full House.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.