The Wallace Foundation in New York City has announced grants totaling $30 million over five years to strengthen principal supervision in fourteen urban school districts.
Launched in February, the Principal Supervisor Initiative aims to change the focus of principal supervisors from compliance to support; reduce the number of principals that supervisors oversee and redesign central offices to better support supervisors; assess the effectiveness and impact of such efforts; and develop lessons learned. Districts in Long Beach, California; Des Moines, Iowa; Broward County, Florida; DeKalb County, Georgia; Minneapolis; and Cleveland were awarded grants averaging $3 million over four years to underwrite training and support for principal supervisors and will also participate in a $2.5 million evaluation to assess their efforts.
In addition, school districts in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Washington, D.C. — which already have taken steps to strengthen principal supervisors by building their skills, reducing the number of principals they oversee, and de-emphasizing compliance — were awarded grants of $800,000 and $700,000, respectively, to develop succession plans and create new support positions to ease supervisors' workloads.
The initiative will provide additional funding totaling $4 million to six districts that are participating in the foundation's Principal Pipeline Initiative, a $75 million effort launched in 2011 to help develop a large corps of "instructional leaders" — principals who are well trained and supported in their efforts to improve teaching and learning in their schools. To that end, districts in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina; Denver; Gwinnett County, Georgia; Hillsborough County, Florida; New York City; and Prince George's County, Maryland, will receive grants ranging from $430,000 to $1 million to underwrite additional support for their principals.
"In many large school districts, principal supervisors oversee too many principals — twenty-four on average — and focus too much on bureaucratic compliance," said Jody Spiro, director of education leadership at the Wallace Foundation. "This new initiative aims to help districts move principal supervisors' focus to one of support, freeing them to better coach and develop principals to help them improve instruction."