LISD creates position to counter state trend - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

10/13/09

LISD creates position to counter state trend

By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Schools across the state are dealing with what seems to be a revolving door for principals. A new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found about half of new principals leave before they've hit the three-year mark, and 70% bow out within five.

Lubbock schools are taking a proactive approach to keep leadership strong. This year, the Lubbock Independent School District created a new position. That person's job is to develop future principals while supporting current ones.

Superintendent Karen Garza says businesses spend a lot on professional development, and it's time schools do the same. "The business industry spends, I think, 8% of their budget on professional development, because they recognize you constantly have to retool. Well, the same is true for education," Garza said.

Garza says results from the UT principal study came as no surprise to her. "It did validate my own experiences," Garza said.

In her experience, Garza says she seen more turnover in schools that are the most challenged. "I have always found that if you look across the nation and particularly in urban schools, in schools that are struggling, you'll find your most novice principals, and in my estimation, it doesn't work. There's just too many challenges with turning around the school," Garza said.

During her time with Houston ISD, Garza says they used data to drive their decisions, identifying their highest performing principals and moving them to struggling schools. "Sometimes you have to pay them differently to encourage them to go to another campus, but when you're talking about the lives of children, sometimes you have to do whatever it takes," Garza said.

LISD doesn't lose as many principals as other districts, but they're still working to make sure leadership is solid. "We think we've got to be serious about preparing our future principals and supporting our principals in their current role," Garza said.

That's why they've created a new position for leadership support and development. Kathy Rollo, principal at Murfee Elementary will assume that role by November. "When we consciously plan for their preparation, when we do have those principalships come available, we have a bench, we have quite a number of people who are prepared and really ready to assume the role and be very successful in it," Garza said.

Garza says they eventually hope to create a leadership and professional development department.  (Click here) to read more on the UT Austin study.   

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