More than money attracts new principals
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
Even though it means taking substantial cuts in pay, two
school principals from outside Idaho have decided to begin working at Wood
River High School and Bellevue Elementary School. Both say they were drawn
here by the Wood River Valley’s quality of life and sense of community.
Their decisions came amid ongoing concern that attracting
and keeping quality educators in Idaho may be hindered because the state
pays its teachers and administrators some of the lowest wages in the
The Idaho Association of School Administrators reported
middle and high school principals in this state will earn on average
$63,149 this school year. Nationwide, the mean income for middle school
principals was $73,877, and for high school principals was $79,839, during
the 1999-2000 school year, the National Association of Secondary School
Principals reported. Blaine County School District superintendent Jim
Lewis said local school administrators earn from $60,000 to $80,000.
Grant Hume, who is currently principal of the
1,600-student Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett, Wash., replaces
Bill Resko as Wood River High School principal this fall. Hume said he’ll
make almost $10,000 a year less than he does now.
In his recent job search, Hume said, he turned down an
offer to be principal at a high school in Nevada even though the position
there pays more than it does here.
Hume said his pension plan in Everett gives a financial
incentive to retire now because he’s worked for 33 years in Everett
schools. But at age 54, he’s not ready to do that. Last summer, he and
his wife Nancy Hume visited the Wood River Valley for the first time
during a vacation, and he said, simply, "We thought this would be a
nice place to be."
He said he also likes the idea of working in the smaller
Wood River High School, which is about half the size of the school where
he currently works. And he’s motivated by the district’s plans to
build a new $19 million high school, made possible by a tax levy Blaine
County voters approved last year.
Gary St. George, who lives in Bellevue, Wash., and worked
as a teacher and principal there for 31 years, said he is also attracted
to come here by the Blaine County School District’s construction plans,
which total nearly $40 million over 10 years.
"Growth mode is always fun to be in," he said.
The district hired George to replace Bill Quann as
Bellevue Elementary School principal in the fall. Jessie Gage, in the
district’s human resource department, said Quann plans to return to
George said the pay is a "little less" in Blaine
County than where he’s coming from, but he’ll do a lot more skiing
here, which should compensate for the financial difference.
On March 28, the district also hired Hemingway Elementary
School teacher Donald Haisley to replace Jon Dominick, who is retiring as
principal of that school.
Last week, district officials interviewed applicants to
replace Wood River Middle School assistant principal Ray Grosvenor, who is
Superintendent Lewis said he thinks the wages offered here
are "fairly competitive, even though we can’t match some of the
states." He, too, believes the community draws educators here, saying
he was "just really pleased with the quality of candidates" who
applied for the four open positions.
In all, they totaled 70 applicants from Idaho, Washington,
Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Alaska and Texas.