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Published: Friday, 10/1/2004

Principal proposal pushed in Monroe

BY GEORGE J. TANBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - The chairman of the Monroe Board of Education is considering calling a special meeting to accelerate passage of a proposal made earlier this week to turn the position of Monroe High School principal into a job-by-committee.

"We don't want to procrastinate. That's how serious we are," Wendy Barth said.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, Superintendent David Taylor presented the plan brought to him by a group of six Monroe High administrators, known as the 'A' team.

"They developed [the idea] and wrote it up in a proposal for us to review," he said. "It appears to be a viable, exciting, and workable way to approach leadership at Monroe High School."

Under the proposal, the six - assistant principals Kim Diven, Hal Heard, and Ryan McCleod, Athletic Director John Ray, Music Director John Tyner, and Vocational Director Ralph Carducci - will share the position vacated by Layne Hunt, who resigned last month. They will be joined by a yet-to-be-hired assistant principal.

The group will divide up the principal's duties, with each covering an area that suits their strength. Additionally, each will occupy the principal's office on a rotating, monthly basis.

"We don't want to break entirely with tradition," Mr. Taylor said. "Plus parents and students expect to have a go-to kind of person [in place]."

Mr. Taylor said the idea came from a research model the group studied. To his knowledge, no other school has tried such an effort, although Monroe High in the early 1980s had a co-principal format.

The resignation of Mr. Hunt, the school's first African-American principal, created considerable controversy in the city's minority community. One of the six proposed principals, Mr. Heard, is African-American.

Ms. Barth said Mr. Heard is not a part of the team because of his skin color.

"He's worked hard, and he fits in doing his job along with everyone else," she said.

Although she said the board is excited about the prospect of approving the proposal, the members want to be assured the plan is feasible financially. Under the proposal, the group will receive their regular pay along with a bonus somewhere in the $5,000 to $6,000 range, she said.

Mr. Taylor said even with the bonuses, it will be cheaper than hiring a new principal.

The board is paying Mr. Hunt his $96,000 salary for the year, unless he gets a new job.

Ms. Diven, who helped put the plan together, said she believes it will work.

"[This] group of people is dedicated to the school and to education. We've tried to function like a team for a quite a long time, so to share the biggest leadership role as a team is not only a great challenge, but an opportunity," she said.

Ms. Diven said she hasn't had much response from teachers or students.

"I haven't heard any flak yet. But I'm sure some people will want to know how it will pan out," she said.

Meetings with the faculty are one of the group's first agenda items, she said.

If the proposal is passed, one stipulation will call for a review in the spring. If it's not successful, the school will need to begin its search for a new principal at that time, Mr. Taylor said.

Contact George J. Tanber at:

gtanber@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.



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