Can principal vacancies be predicted? Perhaps the bigger question for administrators is, “Why aren’t you trying to predict them?” After all, if you don’t know who or how many principals might be leaving each year, you have much less time to prepare your most qualified replacements.
There are two key steps to better forecasting how many open positions you’ll have to fill: data and conversations, says Lindsay Whorton, president of the nonprofit The Holdsworth Center, a K-12 leadership development nonprofit based in Texas. “The time where you can do something about a vacancy is not after it happens, it is in the years leading up to it,” Whorton says. “That’s where you have an opportunity to be identifying, developing, and investing in strong successors who will be ready to move into that role.”
Whorton and her team are concerned that succession planning around principals is a key task that may get overlooked in many districts. Pre-pandemic, the organization was already focused on principal turnover, which has only become a larger problem as districts try to recover. A wave of surveys has revealed significant burnout among overworked principals after two years of disruptions and uncertainty, with one report even warning that a “mass exodus” lies ahead.Read More