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Developing good principals without reforming pay

A group of lawmakers spent about 26 minutes hearing about problems with the principal salary schedule in January. They convened again last week and spent less than 10 minutes asking follow-up questions on the same subject.

The meetings of the House Select Committee on Education Strategy and Practices met both in January and last week. In January, they spent hours hearing over two days mostly about teacher pay. Last week, they spent hours hearing mostly about the value of pre-k on the first day and mostly about principal preparation on the second day.

And while lawmakers seemed eager to hear from turnaround principals and other experts about what makes a good principal, they appeared less inclined to spend a great deal of time talking about what Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, called the “convoluted, complex” principal pay schedule.

Just to recap, we did an article in January of 2015 on the principal pay schedule, pointing out that principals often have to wait years for salary increases from the state because of an outdated principal pay schedule that has changed little over time. In some cases, assistant principals and even principals receive less pay than some of the teachers they oversee.

Alexis Schauss, director of the Division of School Business at the state Department of Public Instruction, discussed some of this in January and answered follow-up questions last week.

Here is the audio of the Q & A from last week.

Following the Q & A, the committee heard from a variety of experts on principal leadership.

First up was Betty Fry, a leadership consultant with the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). She talked about the SREB model for creating great turnaround leaders.

Hear her presentation below. Here is the document of her presentation.

Following her were presentations by a superintendent, a principal, and an assistant principal who have actually performed turnaround in low-achieving schools.

There was Pascal Mubenga, superintendent of Franklin County Schools, who achieved great strides while a principal at Jones Senior High School in Trenton. Here is the document of his presentation. Below is the video of his talk.

And then there was Jan Wagner, principal of South Creek Middle School, and Larry Hodgkins, assistant principal of Riverside Middle School — both in Martin County. Below is the video and here is the document of their presentation.

Finally, there was Steve Tozer, a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, telling the lawmakers what he’s learned about developing transformative school leaders. Below is the video and here is the document of his presentation.

Following all the presentations, there was a panel discussion and Q & A from the lawmakers, which you can view below.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.