In an effort to recruit and keep principals at the district’s most challenging schools, the Miami-Dade School Board may overhaul the way it pays them.
On Wednesday, board members are expected to consider a proposal to compensate principals through a layered system that pays every principal a base rate but rewards those who oversee larger, “fragile” schools that serve economically disadvantaged or exceptional students. Pay would also be based on students’ reading levels and school configuration. The board meets at 11:45 a.m. at 1450 NE Second Ave.
“To accept that a principal is a principal is a principal is denying the way life really works,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told board members last week in presenting the proposal.
Carvalho said the new compensation model, which also aims to comply with a Florida law requiring school administrators to be paid by performance come July of next year, “will not cost the district an additional dollar.”
Currently, Miami-Dade principals are paid on a range that improves as administrators move up from elementary to middle to high schools. Compensation ranges from $94,530 to $128,927, and raises come through across-the-board increases for all principals. Principals are not members of a union.
Under the proposed system, which would be phased in only as administrators move to new schools, pay would be attached to a school. So principals seeking a raise would have to move to a more challenging situation. As proposed, the next principal at Coconut Grove Elementary would receive a district-low $94,530 while a counterpart at Homestead Senior High would be paid a district-high $125,530.
While that means some principals could face a hefty pay cut if they transfer or are moved by the district to a new school, the new proposal also allows long-tenured principals to keep a percentage or even all of their higher compensation when they transfer to a school that pays less.
The idea: Principals working at “tougher” schools will be paid more for their efforts and rewarded if they stick around.
The proposal was crafted over two years by a committee of district representatives, school principals and the Dade Association of School Administrators. Sean Gallagan, principal at George T. Baker Aviation, said the committee’s main goals were to create a fair system that would not increase the district’s costs.
“Those were the main concerns, and we looked at probably at least a half dozen or more designs by other counties across the U.S.,” Gallagan said. “We did a lot of digging and a lot of research on what others have done to try and make this as fair and as equitable as possible for principals.”
The concept of basing principals’ pay on the school where they work has been embraced by districts and counties across the country, according to the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
“In recent years, we’ve seen more differentiation, particularly around schools that are hard to staff, low-resourced environments where the amount of energy, time and effort where that principal is involved increases,” said Dick Flanary, the association’s deputy executive director. “We’ve seen that sort of thing across the country, and we’re supportive.”
Carvalho has said the new system is not perfect, and if approved, he expects to review the pay scale after a year. He said he also expects the new model to be used as a basis for future compensation for assistant principals.