Principal Shortage Looming in Northeastern States

Over 42 percent of principals and assistant principals in nine Northeastern states report that they will be retiring from their positions within the next five years according to a recent survey of over 3,200 elementary, middle and high school leaders, conducted by the Northeast Regional Elementary School Principals’ Council. The results were released at the council’s annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, on September 28-30, 2006. The states involved in the survey were Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

More than 396 of the principals and assistant principals in Pennsylvania responded to the survey. “I’m concerned about the number of qualified individuals available to replace these retiring principals,” said Brian Cashman, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PA Principals Association).

The survey revealed that the roles of the principal and assistant principal have changed in recent years regardless of the size of their schools. Over 50 percent of these educators report that they are supervising faculties of 50 or more individuals, and 53 percent say that their school enrollments are between 500 and 1,000 students.

They also indicate that over 65 percent of administrators have added between five and 15 hours per month to their schedules as a result of the federal No Child Left Behind mandates, over and beyond the additional time needed for state mandates. Principals also report that their duties have increased sub- stantially over recent years to include curriculum coordination, special education, teaching, oversight of building projects and leading additional schools, detracting from their primary role of instructional leader.

“As expectations and responsibilities continue to increase, the principalship becomes less desirable to prospective candidates for these jobs,” Cashman said. Over 40 percent report that they do not have assistant principals and, of those, 57 percent report that they have no additional administrative support to help with these increasing responsibilities.

Council members believe that the role of the principal is vital to the success of student learning and effective teaching, and they have committed to advocating for substantial improvement in the conditions under which they work.

In Pennsylvania, even though there is a sufficient number of certified administrators, many will not apply for administrator positions. Teachers are choosing to stay in the classroom and not go into administration due to the expanding role of the principal and the fact that the compensation has not kept pace with teacher salaries. School districts are finding that the talent pool from which to hire administrators is limited, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find administrators who match the criteria of school districts.

For further information, please contact Sheri Thompson, PA Principals Association Director of Communications
at (717) 732-4999 or e-mail

PA Principals Association’s mission is to: Assist members in fulfilling their role as instructional leaders and effective managers who promote the best educational program for all students; give members an effective voice in the educational decision-making process at the local, state and national levels; and improve members’ working conditions so that their rights are protected, their job descriptions are reasonable, the importance of their instructional leadership role is recognized and their salaries and fringe benefits are equitable.