Cedar Rapids schools to shift principals around - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids schools to shift principals around

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - The state budget squeeze has one area school district shifting principals around for the 2011-2012 academic year, with the intent of saving teaching positions. A few principals will even be assigned to two different schools.

The Cedar Rapids School District released details of the plan on Thursday.

 Valerie Dolezal has been principal at Grant School for 9 years. Next year, she'll be adding on to her pre-kindergarten through first grade responsibilities, by taking over principalship at Wilson, just down the road. 

"I'll be the principal at Wilson, but mainly focusing on the elementary piece, the second through fifth grade piece," Dolezal explained. She said taking on the role of principal at both schools will be a natural transition.

"We share families, we're on the same calendar, the same time schedule, so it will be a natural for a lot of the families, and we've worked as a staff together in both buildings," said Dolezal.

Three principals will retire this year. Rather than hire replacements, the district decided that assigning three principals two schools apiece would be a sensible way of keeping costs down without sacrificing the learning experience for students.

"The programming should stay the same," said Eric Christensen, current principal at Polk Elementary. Christensen will head to Hiawatha Elementary, and said the district is planning for this to be a year-long change. He's excited about going to a different building and getting to know new students and teachers.

"Even though the culture might be different in some regard, the instruction and the staff development piece mirrors what we're currently doing at Polk," said Christensen.

The district is seeing declining enrollment, meaning fewer students and less state funding. Joy Long, who will be principal at both Garfield and Wright schools next year, said having one principal per building is still the ideal configuration. However, if taking on extra work results in saving six teaching jobs, she's in full support.

"If you think about six teaching jobs, six classrooms, about 150 students that would be absorbed in other classrooms, making those class sizes larger, six teachers does make a big difference," said Long.

If you have a child in a Cedar Rapids school, you should be getting more details on this plan from your individual schools early next week.

Click on the link below to see the news release from the Cedar Rapids school district, detailing the changes in store for principals.


We checked with the other large districts in the area.  Dubuque Schools had to cut $5 million from its budget last year but did not consider doubling up on principal duties.

Waterloo Schools has done it in the past with Roosevelt and Lincoln schools.  That was about a decade ago.  Officials say it was quite a challenge and are not considering doing it again to save money at this time.

Iowa City has not determined anything for next school year.  However, last year they started two of their principals at half-time, essentially cutting one principal position. 

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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