There are many members and components of a successful school community and chief among them is strong administrative leadership. Leadership within a school sets the tone and standards for student achievement and instructional excellence, and the LaSalle Parish School System is blessed to have efficient and effective school principals and assistant principals at the helm of all nine schools.
The collected tenure of LPSB principals alone is over 50 years with the longest currently serving having twenty-one years of experience and the newest appointed just starting on the leadership journey.
Principals arrive before the buses do and leave long after the last student is headed home at the end of the school day. They are responsible for raising test scores, managing all school budgets, school safety, directing carlines and buses, academic leadership for students under their care, supporting and maintaining effective teachers, school/community relationships, student behavior, overseeing the good mental health of students and the instructional excellence of teachers…just to list a minuscule review of their responsibilities. The social, academic, financial, behavioral, management and allaround skills required to lead a school community and campus would overwhelm most professionals. You could say school administrators are masters of much, the genius behind academic triumphs, and the leadership necessary for others to achieve their greatest potential.
The school dismissal bell is often only the beginning of the vast remainder of their duties. They are required to attend ballgames, parent involvement activities, school board meetings, and participate in leadership trainings, and anything and everything else that pertains to their school and their leadership positions. Then there are parent phone calls and parental concerns that exceed the school day and school week. Most importantly, there are those relationships with students and staff that must be prioritized and sincerely and earnestly maintained first and foremost.
Pleasing everyone is not only exhausting, but also impossible. With all the decisions a school administrator makes, there are those who agree and applaud and others who criticize and complain. Every penny of the budget that is spent is scrutinized and audited by the powers that be. Each decision made has the potential to build up or tear down. The responsibility is awesome, the opportunities undeniably far reaching, the rewards glorious and the outcomes rest solely on the administrators’ shoulders and reputations.
Historically, the position of school principal has been a much sought after and desired position. However, in the last few decades the nation and public education realm have experienced a turnabout in the number of applicants seeking administrative jobs. What was once a coveted position has increasingly become difficult to fill and even more challenging to maintain.
Statistics and new reports reveal that the average tenure of school administrators has decreased from five years to three years. Principal turnover has basically reached crisis level and the top three reasons are low pay (LA ranks 42nd out of the nation in principal pay), lack of job satisfaction, and burnout. Those who leave the field have expressed that they didn’t enjoy being their jobs due to stress levels, they find more enjoyable jobs with more pay, they wrestle with staff shortages, education is constantly politicized, and there is inadequate funding for public education.
Let’s applaud and appreciate LPSB school principals and assistant principals who have dedicated their time, effort and emotions to make certain that LaSalle students and staff are safe, excelling, and growing academically. They have generously exceeded the average three-year tenure that other school districts must overcome. They are vital, intelligent and obviously nonreplaceable (and fast becoming extinct!), and our school community and students need their expertise and dedication every single school day.