February 7, 2002

School Locks Up Superintendent But Will Begin Search For New Principal

According to the American Association of School Administrators more than 70 percent of current school superintendents will retire within the decade, leading to major issues in the education industry as it searches for new leadership.

The trend likely will be mirrored with the other school administrative positions as the superintendent jobs most often are filled from the ranks of existing principals. That further thins the numbers as the principal position faces very similar retirement issues to that of the superintendent's office.

Scotland County R-I is in a mixed boat as far as the future of the administration. The district will not have to worry about the superintendent problem, at least not until after the 2005 fiscal year, as the board unanimously approved a three-year contract extension to Superintendent LeRoy Huff earlier this year.

"I just want to express my sincere appreciation to the Board of Education for the opportunities that they have provided me to work for the past 38 years, in what I believe to be the most progressive, forward looking school district in North Missouri," Huff said.

However the district must now begin the search for a new high school principal as Connie Courtney announced her resignation, effective at the end of the school year, at the school board's January 28 meeting.

Courtney stated she is not going to retire but simply felt like it was time to look at different options, possibly including a move into the college or university field. She expressed sorrow at leaving the district and all of the people she has had the pleasure of working with but indicated it was simply time to move on.

"I came here to spend the summer 34 years ago and I never left," Courtney said. "It's a difficult decision but I feel like the time is right for me to make a move."

Courtney has served as high school principal the past four years. Prior to that she had been the district's guidance counselor and an instructor at the school for 30 years.

The district will consider all avenues, including both in-house promotions and outside applicants, to fill the high school principal position.

While SCR-I will have to deal with a new face in the office next year, it will not be the only district dealing with the difficulties of filling administrative vacancies. At a recent superintendent's meeting at Kirksville Huff learned that, although he has only been in the office for 4 years, he has the fourth highest seniority among the 25 superintendents in northeast Missouri.

"Putnam County, Milan, Wyaconda and Revere all had first-year superintendents this year," Huff said. Brookfield's superintendent is entering his second year while Highland had a new superintendent either two or three years ago."

Huff seems to be the exception from the rule among school district superintendents in the state. For example, the Kansas City area has lost seven superintendents to retirement in the past three years alone.

The report also lends credence to Huff's motives to remain at the job despite nearly 40 years in the education field. He already is qualified for the administrator's attractive retirement package, which pays the retiree anywhere from 75 percent to 100 percent of their salary after 30 years of service.

"I look at it as pay back," Huff stated. "This school district has been awfully good to me and my family. The district has been here for me as a student. It's been here for my family and my kids and it has been here as my employer. Now it's simply time for me to give a little back in return."

Early retirees list job stress as well as the lack of financial incentive to remain working after achieving retirement eligible status, as the top two reasons for quitting.


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