As far as history teacher John Silva knows, Lindblom Principal Alan Mather has only cried twice at the school.
The first time was at the graduation of the class that was with him when he reopened the school in 2005, two years after CPS closed it because of low achievement and other problems. Under Renaissance 2010, Mather re-opened Lindblom with one class of freshmen. “It was a very special group,” Silva says. “They had a tight relationship.”
Among 42 principals at the 18 schools that have been turnarounds for at least three years, 10 have left either within a year of the turnaround itself or of taking over leadership at the school. Another 11 left after two or three years.
Under a new rating system that takes student test scores into account for the first time, one in five elementary principals and about one in four high school principals earned scores of “developing”—the second-lowest level of the rating system.
The contract with the SUPES Academy is by far the largest no-bid contract that CPS has entered into in at least five years. And the contract has raised suspicion because CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had a previous relationship with SUPES.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says she is open to “tweaking” the district’s large scale principal professional development and coaching program. But, with increased administration involvement, some are questioning the wisdom of entering into the $20 million three-year contract with the SUPES Academy.
Here’s a roundup of principal contracts announced in November: Nathan Manaen, Ravenswood, formerly an instructional support leader in the Pilsen-Little Village Network; James McNealey, Nicholson, former principal at Delano; Kelly Mest, Northside College Prep, previously an assistant principal at Lindblom High, Nicole Monroe, Tanner, previously principal at Sexton; and Rituparna Raichoudhuri, Wells High School, formerly an interim principal at Wells High.
Without fanfare, CPS board members recently approved a three-year, no-bid $20 million contract to provide extensive professional development for principals and network chiefs in what is being dubbed the Chicago Leadership Academy.
The $10 million Chicago Leadership Collaborative is training 75 principal candidates to be ready to take the helm at a school this fall. Yet CPS leadership is not quite sure how many job openings will be available.
Starting this spring, CPS will launch new principal evaluations that are based half on a school’s progress– including students’ improvement on test scores–and half on observations by district administrators.