Maryland State Department of Education

MSDE Bulletin

Keeping You Current on Education Reform in Maryland

June 28, 2000 Vol. 11, No. 9

Principals Task Force Recommends Major Changes

A nearly two-year study on leadership within Maryland public schools has concluded principals are overwhelmed by extraneous responsibilities, need additional training and remain underpaid considering their vast roles and stress.

The Maryland State Department of Education Task Force on the Principalship, co-chaired by Howard County Superintendent Michael Hickey and Montgomery Village Middle School Principal Donald Barron, was appointed by State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. In its report to the Board of Education in June, the task force identified what it concluded were the three major challenges in the complicated job of directing the approximately 1,355 state schools.

The panel made recommendations to address targeted primary issues, in addition to several other concerns.

The report also focused on the need to recruit top-quality candidates for principal positions. All 21 local school system superintendents and 121 principals responding to a task force survey stated there is a shortage of qualified candidates. The task force concluded the problem is likely to worsen in coming years as more than two-thirds of Maryland's middle and high school principals are eligible to retire within five years.

"The intensive study by this task force demonstrates we must devote our attention to improving the quality of the most important position in every school in our state," said Dr. Grasmick. " School reform in Maryland has made great strides over the past decade, and much of our success is due to the outstanding leadership we have had in schools statewide. But the job of school principal is in a transitional period across this nation, and we must address the changing needs of these unique, most-challenging positions."

On the salary issue, the report noted the wide scale disparity among the 24 local systems would be an increasing problem as the systems compete for top quality candidates. For the 1999-2000 school year, starting principal salaries ranged from $37,289 in Somerset County to $75,000 in Calvert County.

Key Recommendations of Principals Task Force

The State Department of Education, and all 24 local school systems, must "clear the plate" of extraneous responsibilities assigned principals to ensure they have time to fulfill their primary role as instructional leaders/facilitators.

Develop comprehensive programs for the identification of principal candidates. Local systems will additionally provide professional development programs for new and current principals.

Adjust principal salary and compensation packages to better reflect the responsibilities, accountability and stress of the principalship.

Principals Named for 3 Reconstituted Baltimore City Schools

The Maryland State Board of Education, at its June meeting, was introduced to the principals who will be in charge of the three Baltimore City elementary schools that will be reconstituted. Those schools will be managed by the private Edison Schools, Inc., starting July 1.

Gilmor, Montebello and Furman L. Templeton elementary schools in January were named for state intervention based on results of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) tests given in grades three and five, and the school attendance rate.

"The schools being reconstituted have many needs, but the No. 1 need at each is strong leadership," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "I think Edison has diligently searched for just such people and that each school has a bright future under these principals."

The three principals, each of whom will be employees of Edison, come with impressive credentials.

Sarah Horsey has been in the Baltimore City school system for 18 years, the past four as principal of Pimlico Elementary. She will be placed in charge of Montebello.

Jo Ann L. Cason, who has worked in the Baltimore City system as a principal and teacher since 1980, will become Gilmor principal.

Darryl Bonds, the new Templeton principal, has been a school administrator in Kansas and Baltimore County since 1990. He was principal at Southwest Academy in Baltimore County from 1994-97.

Action Plan Set for Service Learning

Addressing the need to ensure quality and consistency of Student Service Learning programs across the state, Maryland over the next school year will develop criteria to level disparities that have existed among the 24 local school systems in interpretation of program goals.

Maryland in 1993 became the first, and remains the only, state with a service learning graduation requirement. At its June meeting, the State Board of Education was presented with an action plan that will streamline focus of the program and will narrow definition of acceptable activities. Throughout the 2000-2001 school year, visits will be made to local school systems to review quality assurance of their programs.

Revisions will demand proposed activities define a purpose and relate to a community issue or need. The program seeks to delineate between school activities that some students have been credited for and Service Learning activities.

"What we need to figure out," said Luke Frazier, chief of the Service Learning program, "is how to make it so consistent and so excellent that it becomes just that around the state."

Grant for Reading

The Maryland State Department of Education has been awarded $50,000 worth of free software and training, which will be used by schools participating in the state's pilot Family Reading Plan program. The American Education Corporation, a developer and publisher of educational software, is providing its A+advanced Learning System reading software to participating schools.

"The Family Reading Plan is a program that emphasizes the importance of family involvement and reading at home in the development and life-long appreciation of reading," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.

Launched in 1999, the plan is being piloted in pre-kindergarten through grade two in 24 schools. It provides parents a menu of reading activities that they can complete at home with their children.

MSDE Website Adds New Features

The overwhelmingly successful Maryland State Department of Education website has added several new features to help those interested in education statewide.

The following are among the new items at

Maryland Adolescent Survey (MAS)-Maryland's sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th graders respond in bi-annual survey on their use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

Planning, Results, and Information Management (PRIM)-Now available are publications concerning Professional Salary Schedules, Maryland Public School Enrollment, and Grade Organization.

Special Education/Early Intervention-Find items such as Transition Planning / Anticipated Services in the IEP Process. Available in large print and Spanish versions.

Reconstitution Headed for Redesign

The State Board of Education in 1993 adopted regulations concerning reconstitution of schools that are far from meeting state standards and show little improvement. Since then, 98 schools have been named reconstitution eligible. This past January, three Baltimore City elementary schools became the first designated for reconstitution.

The experiences of the reconstitution program over the past seven years have led to a redesign plan for the future. Presented to the State Board in June, part of the new focus suggests the state work closely with local school systems that have several reconstitution-eligible schools. Another factor involves the changing role of monitors assigned to low-performing schools.

There was additional concentration on limiting the number of years a school could retain reconstitution-eligible status before being reconstituted.

"We must establish a strategy of how these schools can be stabilized," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick, noting that reconstitution-eligible schools receive additional state funding and guidance in developing improvement plans. "If they bounce back [to levels before being designated], then we have not been successful."

For systems with numerous underachieving schools, the state will call for a master plan that would lead to local systems more directly working toward improving achievement. Monitors will continue their changing role. Originally conceptualized as overseers, during the program's tenure, monitors have played increasingly active roles in shaping the improvement plans of schools to which they are assigned.

MSDE Bulletin
School & Community Outreach Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Web site:

Ronald Peiffer
Assistant State Superintendent

Neil Greenberger