March 4, 2013

Is knotty job undoing principals in Maine?

Recent studies say the position is more demanding than ever and longtime local administrators agree.

By Leslie Bridgers
Staff Writer

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Massabesic High School Principal Christian Elkington visits with students waiting for a bus at the end of the school day in Waterboro on Friday. “We’re being told, even if we’re making gains, they’re not good enough,” Elkington said.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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"The time commitment is unbelievable," he said. "And there's more and more time every year because there are more programs, and people expect the principal to be involved, and a good principal will be involved."

Almost 40 percent of Maine principals surveyed by the University of Maine reported that they "often wonder if the long hours are worth it." One principal wrote, "Too much work for the reward," the study said.

Principals' salaries vary throughout the state, depending on the size of the school and the community in which it's located. The Bonny Eagle principal whose contract was not renewed was making $94,000, considered a typical salary for a large school district. South Portland is offering a salary of $95,000 to $103,000 to candidates who want to apply for its principal opening.

The study found principals in general "continue to judge their salaries and benefits as low" in relation to the time commitment and stress.

But, Lowell said, he would "do it all over again without a second thought."

Although the majority of Maine principals report that their job is stressful and that they struggle to balance it with their personal lives, more than 80 percent say they find the work "rewarding, energizing and enjoyable," according to the Maine Principal Study. Lowell agreed.

"I would say, all in all, the job is a great job," he said. "It's really a very rewarding career, but it isn't an easy one and it's getting more and more frustrating."

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:


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