Hiring an Interim Principal

By Jonathan G. Steiner, associate executive director for member relations at the New Hampshire Local Government Center

Have you ever been the last domino in the hiring process? It works something like this: School A advertises for a principal. School B’s principal applies and gets the job. School B advertises and takes an assistant principal from school C. You are school C, and it’s August 25. What to do?

A new program called the Granite State Transitional Principals LLC (GSTP) has been created to help you meet your needs. A joint venture between the New Hampshire Association of School Principals (NHASP) and two long-term experts in education and legal issues, GSTP is all about “putting quality leaders in schools” on an interim basis.

“The need for interim principals and assistant principals has increased over the years as the pool of candidates has decreased,” says Peggy McAllister, executive director of the NHASP.

Some of the stumbling blocks in hiring an interim can be insurance and retirement system issues. A retired principal cannot step down from a job, collect retirement and then take the same job on an interim basis the next day. Further, an interim who works on his or her own needs to have workers’ compensation and liability insurance. The paperwork headaches alone distract an educational leader from doing what he or she does best: lead a school. GSTP handles all the paperwork and contracts, provides the necessary insurance coverages and makes the process run efficiently.

GSTP already has a number of retired principals under agreement and expects to add more at the end of this year. The process for hiring an interim works as follows. The superintendent contacts GSTP, and an interview is scheduled to develop a school profile. The actual needs of a school may vary. Some may need a leader to maintain the status quo; others may be looking for a change agent or someone to improve the climate. After collaborating with the board and superintendent, GSTP will offer two or three candidates and the decision is up to the district. “If it doesn’t work out, and we certainly hope that is not the case, we can remove that person very quickly and bring in another,” says Michael Tocci, an owner of GSTP.

The cost runs between $375 to $600 per day, which covers all payroll and insurance, since the interim is an employee of GSTP. A year or less is generally the term for which an interim can be employed, except under certain circumstances where a longer term may be necessary.

GSTP explains the benefits as, quite simply, getting the right match from a pool of qualified people, getting the right fit for the job to be done, and getting the right person quickly so that the long-term hiring process is not rushed.

For information, contact Granite State Transitional Principals at 603.225.7170.

Jon Steiner is a former member of the Kearsarge (SAU #65) School Board, representing the Town of Bradford. He can be reached by phone at 800.852.3358 or by e-mail.

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