Two district principals would have to reapply to keep their jobs next year

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comDecember 9, 2011 

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If two Beaufort County School District principals want to keep their jobs next year, they'll have to reapply.

The school district is advertising openings for the jobs at Joseph S. Shanklin and Broad River elementary schools, district instructional services chief Sean Alford said.

Student achievement at those schools hasn't improved at the rate the district desires, Alford said, citing student scores on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards and Measures of Academic Progress exams and annual state report card ratings.

Similarly to Shanklin and Broad River, Shell Point Elementary also isn't showing the gains the district wants, school district spokesman Jim Foster said. Shell Point will close next school year, though, so there's no principal job to advertise.

"I'm not saying that the schools haven't grown," Alford said. "I'm saying that the schools haven't grown at the same accelerated pace as others that are similar to them."

Alford said comparable schools would be Whale Branch or Beaufort elementary schools, which are similarly diverseand have a high percentage of students from low-income families.

The principals were told privately several weeks ago, Superintendent Valerie Truesdale said in an email.The decision also was announced in a presentation for Battery Creek High School cluster parents Monday.

Mark Mansell, the principal at Shanklin Elementary, said he already planned not to return to Shanklin next school year. He will be the principal for fifth- and sixth-graders at Robert Smalls Middle School.

Attempts Friday to reach Broad River principal Constance Goodwine-Lewis were unsuccessful.

Broad River School Improvement Council chairwoman Jennie Jessup said the school's SIC plans to fight the decision, which she learned about Monday night.

"We feel that instead of changing principals and putting a new person in the position and giving them the support needed to proceed, they should support our principal," Jessup said.

The SIC plans to meet at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at the school to examine student achievement data and work on a plan to change the district's decision.

Alford said applicants for the two positions will be interviewed by a panel that could include district staff, other principals, teachers and parents. The panels have not yet been selected, he said.

Ideal applicants will have a plan to boost student achievement, Alford said. The district wants someone who can create an environment that "sparks a high acceleration of growth," he said.

"A principal does much more than focus on test scores," Alford said. "But student achievement is a large component of the job."

Alford said the district took similar action for the same reasons three years ago. Principals at Whale Branch Elementary, Whale Branch Middle, James J. Davis Early Childhood Education Center and St. Helena Elementary schools had to reapply for their jobs. Alford wasn't sure Friday which of those principals kept their jobs.

In the three years since, student achievement has met district expectations, Alford said.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

Related content:

Palmetto Assessment of State Standards data

Annual state report card data

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