Over the last calendar year, 16 West Hartford school administrators - principals, vice principals and the like - have left and been replaced.
There have been some comments and whispers that 16 administrators - even for a school district as high-performing as West Hartford - is a lot, if not too many.
But Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen List said in a recent interview that the turnover of administrators in the school system is not surprising and, more importantly, the overall health of the schools is excellent.
List provided several reasons for the high number of administrators leaving the school district.
The first one is simple: West Hartford employees are desirable targets for other school districts.
Eileen Howley, the former assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, was approached by LEARN to be its executive director.
“I was sad, but I would never get in the way of someone moving up,” List said.
The second is just as simple: When one West Hartford administrator leaves, the school district tends to like to promote within. If that happens - say a vice principal at one school becomes principal at another school, then there are two vacancies to fill.
“We do a great job of developing people in this district,” said List, who has spent 32 years working in West Hartford schools. List said that the district has spent decades developing teachers every Wednesday afternoon. That applies to the administrators as well.
List said that she asks every new hire to think of how they see themselves as leaders. That breeds a culture within West Hartford of developing talented teachers and administrators, List said.
To drive home the point, one new administrator told List during the interview process that she “steals” ideas from West Hartford schools.
“She said, ‘I’ve always wanted to work in this school district,’” List said.
Third, according to List, people retire.
And, finally, some administrators just wanted to do other things, she said.
All of which led to 16 new administrators - including seven principals - in the last calendar year. But List also put that number into context, when she said that there are 55 administrators in the school district, which is the 9th largest in the state.
Though it’s her final year, List said that she is as energized and excited as any other due in part because of the new administrative team that she has to work with and develop.“It’s been a terrific opening to the school year,” she said.