The Capital School District Board of Education approved a plan to dramatically revamp the administrative structure of Dover High School so that it would have two principals to handle administration and academics separately. School board member Brian E. Lewis cast the lone dissenting vote.


The Capital School District Board of Education approved a plan to dramatically revamp the administrative structure of Dover High School so that it would have two principals to handle administration and academics separately.

The school board approved the plan with a 4-1 vote at a special meeting held early Monday morning. School board member Brian E. Lewis cast the lone dissenting vote.

Under the plan, Dover High Principal Eugene M. “Gene” Montaño would remain at the school as principal of administration, Capital Assistant Superintendent Dr. Tina Huff said. A principal of academics will be hired.

Dover High is one of 10 schools in Delaware’s Partnership Zone, created as part of the state’s $119 million Race to the Top federal award. Race to the Top is President Obama’s national effort to improve schools through fiercely competitive grants using money from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, also known as the federal stimulus package.

Since federal money always comes with strings attached, Partnership Zone schools receiving federal Race to the Top funds must carry out one of four models to significantly improve student performance. One of them was transformation – where a school makes significant changes in its governance and operation.

Capital’s plan for Dover High, now posted on the Capital website, did not change significantly from the version presented to the board earlier this month, Huff said. The team that crafted the plan simply took a little more time to craft the details in each of the five focus areas of the Partnership Zone, including curriculum, instruction and assessment, teacher and leader effectiveness, extended learning time, flexible operating conditions, family and community engagement and school climate, Huff said.

“We appreciate the cooperation of all our stakeholders including board members, parents, teachers, union leaders and administrators who have worked together in a collaborative spirit with a common goal of increasing student achievement for all learners,” she said.

Lewis took umbrage with the two principals model because school district officials lacked data to support such a move, he said. He also said he doesn’t think Capital can afford such an administrative structure.

“Initially, I voted in favor back in September for the transformation module out of four modules introduced to be selected by the board,” Lewis said. “At that time the vote was 5-0. The co-principalship was something added by administration
and the PZ Committee at a later date.

“You will have two principal's making over $115,000 or more a year plus you have three vice principals all making over $100,000 a year,” he said.

The Delaware Department of Education had suggested the co-principal model as an option to consider, Huff said.

“With the many demands presented in the high school environment, this model permits us to have a principal 100 percent committed to instruction and learning,” she said. “The guidelines of the plan demand impressive results in student achievement in a two-year period. Research shows that strong, knowledgeable, dedicated leadership is a key to this objective.”

Capital had visited one of 10 schools that use the model – Mount Pleasant High School in the Brandywine School District in North Wilmington, Superintendent Dr. Michael D. Thomas had said at the board’s Dec. 7 meeting. Mt. Pleasant has had a co-principalship for two years.

But Lewis pointed out at the Monday meeting that there was no data to support Capital’s claim that the co-principalship works.

“I believe we are entering unchartered waters with this co-principal module,” he said.