One in five school principals are considering leaving their position

(Quebec) One tile does not wait for the other in the education network. After teachers, professional desertion is reaching school principals, for whom the number of empty chairs follows an “exponential” curve which risks accelerating, reveals a survey obtained by The Press which was carried out by an association of school directors.

What there is to know

The shortage of professionals in the education network does not only affect teachers. A growing number of school principals are now considering leaving their positions.

According to a survey conducted by the Fédération québécoise des directions d’establishment d’enseignement (FQDE), one school principal in five is currently carrying out “serious reflection” about their future in anticipation of the next school year.

The FQDE believes that the government must put in place a salary catch-up plan, as it has increased the salary scale of teachers.

In recent weeks, the Fédération québécoise des directions d’establishment d’enseignement (FQDE) – whose members work in 46 of the 61 school service centers in Quebec – conducted a survey of school directors, alerted by the increase in the number of emails and calls from their members complaining about work overload and openly considering leaving their position.

In its survey, the FQDE noted that one school principal in five is currently carrying out “serious reflection about (their) future” in anticipation of the next school year. Of this number, 79% of respondents cited reasons of workload and salary, 8% non-stability of employment, 4% work-family balance, 4% daily management of staff shortages and finally 4% the management of parents.

If they leave their position to become teachers again, these school principals would accelerate an already growing desertion, also shows the data collected by the FQDE.

To date, in the school service centers where its members work, 32 director positions have not been filled, as have 45 assistant director positions. The two regions most affected by this phenomenon are Lanaudière and Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

To replace them in the event of departure, the candidate banks for succession are sometimes empty, often bare and contain few teachers with many years of experience. The federation’s survey also reveals that 23 school service centers “have no person” in their bank who wants to take on the challenge of running a school.

“A salary catch-up to be done”

In interview with The Press, the president of the FQDE, Nicolas Prévost, sounds the alarm. “It’s exponential to see vacancies. When I took up my post (at the Federation), there were no empty chairs,” he worries.


The president of the Quebec Federation of Educational Institution Directors, Nicolas Prévost

Two years ago, in the school service centers where its members work, around ten school management positions were unfilled. Last year, there were around thirty. This year, adding up the positions of director and those of assistant director, there are nearly 80.

“There is no one sitting in these chairs. This means that it is either an existing management which will find itself with one more school, or a retiree who will come and lend a hand, while the general director finds someone,” explains he.

To curb this phenomenon, the FQDE and the Quebec Association of School Management Personnel (AQPDE) launched a multiplatform advertising campaign last fall to promote the profession. Nicolas Prévost notes that this is not enough and believes that the government will have to take out its checkbook again. For the president of the FQDE, which is not a union and which does not have the mandate to negotiate the working conditions of its members, the issue is partly mathematical.

“School principals see that teachers are going to be earning $110,000 per year at the top of the scale, for an average of 40 hours per week over 200 days. The average provincial salary is $128,000; they work an average of 54 hours per week over 260 days. Doing the math, per hour, a school principal will earn less than a teacher,” he says.

It is undeniable that there is a lot of (salary) catching up to be done. The reaction is human. Directors tell themselves that if they are to be like that, they will return as teachers.

Nicolas Prévost, president of the Quebec Federation of Educational Institution Directors

A job that is becoming more complex

If nothing is done, or if the government recalls that its next budget which it will table next week is already in deficit and “tight”, due to the economic slowdown and the more advantageous salary increases than expected agreed to renew collective agreements in the public sector, the FQDE fears that the situation will get worse.

Already today, managing the shortage of professionals in the school network is making the task of school principals more complex, notes Mr. Prévost. In addition, the implementation of the catch-up plan to help students who suffered the most from the historic education strike last fall required dozens of unpaid overtime hours on the part of school administrators. The teachers who raised their hands to participate in this plan are for their part paid.

“Someone will have to explain to me where the advantage of being a school principal is in this context,” he says.


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