New Role to Support School Principals Being Piloted in D.C.

Human Resources

Certainly, we'd all benefit from a few more hours in the work week to get things accomplished — but it's easy to see how the daily hustle and bustle of running a school (otherwise known as logistics and operations management) could consume most of the day for principals and assistant principals. Potentially, school logistics management could eat up all of the hours in the work day of a K-12 principal, leaving less time to monitor the quality of instruction and learning.

We know this because a whole new role being piloted out of District of Columbia Public Schools is designed to help alleviate this issue for educational leadership. What started in D.C. in 2014 as a small pilot program has now spread to 70 of the city's 115 public schools.

The Pain Point

According to a survey we conducted of school principals, although "creating instruction to meet the needs of all learners" is a serious priority, less than half of those surveyed responded that they thought their school was managing well in this area.

Creating instruction to meet the needs of all learners
Another study indicated that principals tend to spend the most time overseeing student services, managing budgets and dealing with student discipline issues — and only .03% of their time using data to inform instruction for educational leadership.[1]

Potential Solution: A New Leadership Role

The idea behind the director of school logistics and operations role, as first reported by NPR, is to reclaim time for principals, assistant principals and their staff by taking over logistics and operations management — and other ad hoc challenges that may come up during the course of a busy school day.

Pankaj Rayamajhi, one of the directors of school logistics and operations in the pilot program, spends his day monitoring and completing tasks that used to fall to the school's principal, including campus security, maintenance, student discipline, parent outreach and even cafeteria management. Rayamajhi also oversees nearly 50 employees, procurement and HR-related activities.

Early Results of the Pilot

So far, the creation of this new role has proven an immense help to D.C. principals in that it has shifted time-consuming logistics and operational tasks off of their plates, reclaiming a significant amount of time and capacity for them to focus on the other critical factors of school success that fall under their purview.

"I was worrying about whether there was soap in the bathroom or there was toilet paper in the bathroom," says Maria Tukeva, principal at a 1,400-student campus. "However, I also have to worry about is everyone learning how to read at a high level, is everyone learning math at a high level."

A New Hope: More Time for Principals = More Focused and Successful Schools

Research has shown that students benefit when principals use their high-level view of processes and programs to create synergy among educators, other staff members and parents.[2]  Giving principals back some time to focus on instructional planning, staff development, classroom assessment techniques, and academic accountability is, of course, essential for promoting student achievement and overall school success.

Are you a principal? Imagine what could be accomplished if you had someone on your team devoted to operations and logistics management. Where would you shift your focus first?

You can read the full article from NPR online.  

 
[1] Horng, E. L., Klasik, D., & Loeb, S. (2009). Principal time-use and school effectiveness. (School Leadership Research Report No. 09-3). Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Institute for Research on Education Policy & Practice Retrieved from www.schoolleadershipresearch.org.
 
[2] Day, C., Gu, Q. & Sammons, Pam (2016). The Impact of Leadership on Student Outcomes: How Successful School Leaders Use Transformational and Instructional Strategies to Make a Difference. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52 (2). Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0013161X15616863.

About Danielle Simbajon

Danielle Simbajon has created content in support of the education community for over 10 years. She works at Frontline Education, developing content to help the community continue to learn and grow.