A LYS Principal asks the following:

SC,

I am currently at a career crossroads and would like you opinion on how I should move forward.

As you know, I am the High School Principal in a small urban/suburban district.  Our superintendent, a mentor and the person who hired me, is retiring and the Board is looking outside the district for her replacement.

There is a larger district that has approached me to take over a successful elementary school that currently has an opening.  The school is larger than my current school, the pay will be the same, and there would be room for advancement, both in salary and position.

My overall career aspiration is to be a Superintendent. Would it be damaging to my career to accept the position in the other district?  Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

SC Response There is not a clear-cut answer to this.

In general, when a Principal moves from High School to Elementary School it is considered a demotion.  Unless it is a bigger school, a better living situation, or more money.  And then you still have to explain it because on paper it is at least a yellow flag.

On the other hand, if you know that you won’t be on the new Superintendent’s team, then getting out early when you can pick where you land is always a good option. 

Here are the general rules:

Men typically get their first Superintendent job from either the high school principal position or a senior central office position.

Women typically get their first Superintendent job from either a secondary principal position or a central office position.

Here is what I would do in your position. If I do not know the new Superintendent, I would stay.  I would lead the best damn High School in the region and make my Superintendent look good. Then when the new Superintendent leaves in two to four years (which is about a 90% chance), I would be a, if not THE, logical internal candidate.  If the board doesn’t see it that way, I start applying for other assistant superintendent and superintendent positions in areas where my family would like to live.

Good luck!

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