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More than 50 schools will have new principals in September

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

[Updated 5/17]

About one in four District schools will open with new principals next year, according to the latest District calculations.

At least 41 of the 218 schools that will be open next year have vacancies, and the District has already made appointments in 12 others — making a total of more than 50 schools with new leadership.

Update: Here are the 12 schools where vacancies have been already been filled. The District declined to release the names of the newly appointed principals.

  • AMY @ James Martin
  • Bethune (present principal remaining)
  • GAMP
  • Hamilton
  • High School of the Future
  • Key
  • Lea
  • Leeds
  • Pollock
  • Solis-Cohen
  • Spruance
  • Youth Study Center

The turnover has been caused by a combination of retirements, resignations, charter conversions, and school closings. Also principal transfers created some new vacancies.

The District expects to fill half the vacancies from the ranks of current principals — those displaced from closing schools or Renaissance charters — and the other half with a combination of other qualified District employees and outside hiring.

The 41 vacancies encompass 12 high schools, 23 elementary schools, five Promise Academies, and one alternative school. (One listing cites both Meade Elementary and a Crossroads Academy alternative school planned for the same site; District officials did not immediately clarify whether they are seeking two principals or one for that site).

Lissa Johnson, the assistant superintendent in charge of tracking the vacancies and hiring, said that 43 principals retired this year, and 21 displaced principals still don’t have new appointments.

She said the 43 retirements are not out of line with past years. In 2012, 26 retired, she said, and 39 in 2011.

Johnson said that 30 assistant principals have also filed for retirement. Those jobs will disappear if the bare-bones school budgets go into effect.

Robert McGrogan, head of the principals’ union, said the retirement numbers can easily continue to change, although he does not expect them to do so dramatically. Given the uncertainty around school budgets, many of his members are “out shopping for jobs,” he said, and may retire if they get a better offer elsewhere.

Principals and teachers were required to file retirement papers by March 15 in order to keep health benefits throughout the summer. Those who filed can rescind through the end of June, and it is also possible that others who receive benefits through a spouse could still decide to retire from the District.

At the same time, McGrogan said, some who have filed for retirement may change their minds and rescind their decision.

Johnson says that retiring principals are required to give the District 60 days notice. “At the latest, the folks who are looking to leave would tell us by June 30,” she said.

And as for assistant principals, Johnson said it could be months before individual schools know what positions will be retained, created, or eliminated. The exact leadership profile for all of the District’s schools won’t necessarily be clear until the waning days of the summer, she said.

“Schools are doing their budgets right now,” and they’ll be done by May 24, said Johnson. “After that time, Human Resources will start collating numbers of positions that are being purchased or dropped. Hopefully we’ll know soon thereafter if we’re getting additional funding from the state or the city, which would then go back to schools. … I don’t know that we’ll really know for sure the full impact until right before school opens.”

Schools with known principal vacancies

Elementary/middle schools High schools Promise Academies Alternative education
Arthur Bartram Barry Crossroads@Hunting Park
Comly Carver Engineering & Science Bryant
Cooke Creative and Performing Arts Cayuga
Emlen Franklin Learning Center McMichael
Forrest George Washington Strawberry Mansion
Fox Chase Overbrook
Kearny Parkway Center City
Lowell Parkway Northwest
Ludlow Philadelphia Military Academy
McCall Robeson
McClure Sayre
McDaniel Swenson

Meade/​Crossroads Accelerated Academy


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