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Manchester school board is asked to reduce requirements for principals

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 10. 2013 8:55PM

MANCHESTER - The city Board of School Committee will tonight be asked to scale back the experience requirements for appointment as a principal in Manchester schools.

The changes are strongly backed by Supt. Thomas Brennan, who had to rescind an appointment last summer because his choice for a principal position did not have experience teaching at the same grade level.

In recommending the change, Brennan told the school board Coordination Committee last month that there have been examples of individuals with a teaching resume of two or three years duration who have become "excellent administrators," while long-time teachers with more experience have "struggled" in the job of running a school.

The Coordination Committee deadlocked and was unable to make a recommendation on the proposed policy change.

The proposed new job description reduces the requirements for teaching experience and time spent as an administrator. At most levels, the requirements reduce the years of experience in education from 10 to six, and the years spent teaching from five to three.

Current policy included requirements for time spent teaching at the candidates' certification levels and in the grades at which they would become principals. Those requirements are removed in the proposed policy.

The Coordination Committee deadlocked on the matter 3-3.

Committee Vice Chairman David Gelinas said Sunday that he expects the revised job description to be approved by the full committee, even though it replaces one that was adopted only last year.

"I get the feeling from board members that the additional requirements didn't help us in the past year," Gelinas said, noting that the recommendation was made by Brennan, who has seen the applicants the new policy has attracted.

Committee members Arthur Beaudry and Debra Gagnon Langton sharply opposed the revised policy.

Beaudry said at last month's Coordination Committee meeting that the district should delay changing a policy put in place less than a year ago until the board gets input from the superintendent named to replace Brennan, who retires in June.

Langton said reducing the experience level for a principal would lead to problems.

"I just find that lack of experience would create a huge credibility issue," Langton said during the Coordination Committee meeting that reviewed the proposed change. "Lowering the standards to have such a minimum amount of experience, I think this does this district a disservice."

Last year, Brennan named a central office administrator to be a middle school principal, but had to rescind the appointment because she lacked experience at a specific grade level as required by the job description.

Mayor Ted Gatsas voted present in the Coordination Committee, which means the matter comes to the school board without a recommendation.

Gatsas has said he would not vote for any job description for principals in the Manchester schools that does not include a residency requirement.

Schools Politics Manchester

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