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All Harford schools' 10-month assistant principals to become 12-month employees July 1

Any 10-month assistant principals in the Harford County public school system will become 12-month employees beginning July 1.

The change, approved by the Harford County Board of Education at their meeting March 25, comes on the heels of Superintendent Sean Bulson’s proposal to eliminate 26 assistant principal positions countywide.

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The total cuts of administrators totals about $4 million, Bulson told board members.

As Harford’s public school system struggles to close a $35 million budget gap this year, it’s also looking to the future for potential ways to reduce costs in increase revenues, which include outsourcing and offering naming rights for athletic facilities.

“This was an effort to level the playing field for the remaining assistant principals and also add back a little bit of capacity,” Bulson said. “We’re cutting so many positions, this will ensure those who do remain are there the entire year and will support the schools year-round.”

The reclassification will cost about $345,000 and affect 42 assistant principals — 29 at the elementary level and 13 at the secondary level — who are 10-month employees or in the 10-month assistant principal pool, according to Jillian Lader, manager of communications for the school system.

It’s a move the administrators’ union — the Association of Public School Administrators and Supervisors of Harford County — appreciates.

“As president, I appreciate Dr. Bulson recognizing the need for a very strong, consistent administrative force all year long,” said Dr. Stacey Gerringer, who is also principal of Abingdon Elementary School. “As administrators, we will have to shift how we implement service to kids.”

Bulson’s proposal calls for eliminating 26 assistant principal positions, with some schools, especially at the elementary level, sharing an assistant principal.

Most of the elementary school principals are 10-month employees, Gerringer said.

When they become full-time this summer, they will all have to worker harder over the summer to do more planning for professional development, test uses and celebrations, she said.

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“We’ll be more active, we won’t have time during the school year,” Gerringer said. “Things we normally do during the year, we’ll have to do over the summer.”

With more administrators, one assistant principal could be handling the day-to-day issues, while the other works on planning, but with fewer assistant principals overall, more planning will have to be done when school is not in session.

“It will be all hands on deck when kids are here,” Gerringer said. “We’ll have to pull together as a team and be more proactive.”

The union president said she has not received any negative feedback about the reclassification.

“No one has reached out and said they can’t believe we’ll have to work 12 months,” she said.

Gerringer knows what it’s like to have more work.

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Before moving to Abingdon Elementary, a school with about 800 students, Gerringer was principal at Fountain Green Elementary, with about 500 students. Despite having 300 more students, Abingdon Elementary has the same number of administrators, she said.

Everyone agrees that our school systems across the state are pleading for help with their ever-growing demands. To better understand the state’s role in funding Harford County Public Schools, we must attempt to understand the existing funding formulas that direct allocations.

As part of the budget process, the union asked the school board to increase its budget request to the county by $5 million, not to go toward hiring back administrators, rather teachers.

“We are really pushing for teaching positions. In all this, we can’t lose sight of what’s best for our kids,” Gerringer said.

All five associations have been working hard together to lobby Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and work with the state senators and delegates to get more money for schools.

“Schools need more funding, more resources — the kids really need the support,” Gerringer said. “We’re not asking for raises, we’re asking to give the kids what they need.”

Also at the March 25 meeting, the board approved adding Laurie A. Namey to the middle school principal pool.

Effective July 1, she will be principal of Magnolia Middle School, taking over for Mike Quigg, who was recently named principal of Aberdeen High School, Lader said. Aberdeen High Principal Mike O’Brien will take over July 1 as executive director of middle/high school instruction from Joe Schmitz, who is retiring.

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