Lexington High School plans to appoint an interim principal for the 2023-2024 school year to devote more time to the search for a permanent principal.
Once chosen, the permanent principal will be tasked with leading a school with over 2,200 students, known as one of the best public high schools in America, in the wake of the pandemic and during the construction of a new school building.
Superintendent Julie Hackett announced the shift to a search for an interim principal after only receiving eight applications for the permanent position. The applicants included four high school principals, two assistant principals and two directors.
In her May Superintendent’s report, Hackett wrote, “The shallow applicant pool could be due to the time of year, the nature of the posting as an anticipated vacancy, or the challenges of being a high school principal of a very large school.”
Hackett added, “We are grateful to those applicants who took the time to express interest in us; however, after careful consideration, we have decided to suspend the search for the permanent position now and advertise for an interim principal instead.”
Lexington Public Schools will resume the permanent principal search in January 2024.
Applications for the new interim position were due on June 2, and are being reviewed over the next couple of weeks with the hope of announcing the new interim principal by June 16.
In a listening session with the high school community on May 17, Hackett said that an experienced principal is typically a strong candidate for the interim position and something they will be considering in the search.
She added, “Some sort of familiarity with our school system is useful because the job of the interim is just to keep things moving along until we find the person who is going to be there permanently.”
“Similar to a lot of districts, we still have a lot of growth to make in diversity, equity inclusion initiatives,” Lexington School Committee Chair Sara Cuthbertson said. She emphasized that “bringing a leader in who is used to listening to students and actually evaluating student voices is very important” for both the interim and permanent positions.
The search for a new principal was prompted by the departure of Dr. Andrew Stephens, the current principal of Lexington High School since 2017, who has accepted the Superintendent/Principal position at Lincoln-Sudbury.
“We wish him well, we hope he has a great landing spot, and we are looking forward to working with whoever comes next,” said the President of the Lexington Education Association, Avon Lewis.
Lewis explained that because Lexington is seen as a “high profile district” it is often used as a jumping off point for higher-level jobs for principals. “It looks good on your resume if you’re then moving on to be a superintendent or some higher level position. So we have seen many principals over the last years move on to other positions,” Lewis said.
In the recent contract negotiations, high school teachers focused on adding staffing back to the school to make up for cuts that happened about 20 years ago.
“Whoever our new principal will be is going to have a huge role in follow through on that, and making sure that the staffing happens and gets to the places where it’s been needed,” said Lewis.
Since COVID, school districts around the country have gone through constant changes. In Lexington, with the construction of the new school building, the theme of change will continue.
“We are going to be going through a lot of work during the MSBA (Massachusetts School Building Authority) process for the LHS (Lexington High School) building project, so we want to make sure that we have a really strong leader to come in and work with the staff and the students,” Cuthbertson said.
For next year’s leader, Lewis said, “I’m hoping that the district will hire a veteran educator who knows their stuff, and is able to come in and really work with the staff to think about things and set a path forward.”