To Save Money, Some Principals Return to Teaching

City principals have to finalize their budgets for the coming school year by next Friday, and a few are taking a do it yourself approach. They're planning to save money by going back into the classrooms.

As principal of the Science, Technology and Research Early College High School in Brooklyn, Eric Blake said he has to cut over $270,000 dollars from his budget. This means letting go of two teachers, a guidance counselor and a social worker from the combined intermediate and high school.

To compensate, Blake is planning to teach an English class. He says he often does this anyway for one semester of the school year, but this time it will be year-round unless additional money comes through. And a few of his assistant principals will also teach, "Because I modeled my leadership," he said. "I taught the class and they're willing to follow as well."

Blake said this is the first time his assistant principals have offered to teach. In high schools, APs who are department chairs (with supervision titles) often teach because they have the required subject area certification and their classrooms serve as teaching models. But some high school principals say they're asking other APs to step up to the plate with them.

One Brooklyn principal, who didn't want to be identified, said he will preside over daily study halls now that he's had to cut a few teachers. And some elementary and middle school principals say they've had to eliminate math or reading coaches to save money and are taking on those extra duties.

The head of the principals union, Ernest Logan, said he doesn't know if more principals than usual are teaching classes because of the budget cuts. "It's hard to do both," he said, of running a school and teaching. But, he added that the teaching "can also be a good example."