Replacing South Carolina high school principals is very costly for school districts, according to new research from the University of South Carolina.
While the teacher shortage crisis continues to receive much attention, little attention has been given to another looming crisis: the growing shortage of school administrators. The U.S. Department of Education reports that 20 percent of administrators leave their positions each year. The dramatic turnover of principals, combined with an estimated 6 percent rise in new principal positions by 2024 resulting from increased student enrollment, is concerning to education officials.
According to recently published research conducted by University of South Carolina College of Education professor Henry Tran, the average cost of replacing a high school principal is high.
Tran told South Carolina Radio Network his research focused on South Carolina school districts. “This is based off of a study that was recently published in the Management of Education and it was a systematic cost analysis of six school districts in South Carolina and the cost it would require to replace the principals.”
Previous research on the issue suggests it takes 5-7 years for a principal’s vision to lead to substantive reform and improve school performance. Tran argues that raising principal salary is likely one cost-effective solution to countering the costs incurred from principal replacement in school districts.
“If you take into consideration principal preparation costs, that amount actually goes above $60,000,” Tran said. “Which is closer to the national estimate by the School Leaders Network… about $75,000.”
“In short, it costs a lot to replace principals.”
Previous research on the issue found that in addition to added costs, principal turn-over negatively affects school performance and student outcomes. Tran said the average tenure for a South Carolina high school principal is between 4-5 years.