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Before the first day of school, a mountain of tasks for principals

A school on its first day of classes is, ideally, a well oiled machine.

Before teachers report for duty Tuesday and students for class on Thursday, computers must be upgraded, textbooks distributed, and lunch schedules set. Staff must be hired, instruction planned, and services put in place for students with special needs.

To help principals stay on top of all of the moving pieces involved in planning for the first day of school, the Department of Education has distributed a checklist of start-of-school tasks, similar to the compliance checklist that principals use to make sure they have completed required management tasks over the course of the year.

The 50-plus tasks on the start-of-school list fall into broad categories of staffing, school organization, physical environment and security, technology, and instruction. Elementary and middle school principals must also oversee student enrollment. (High school enrollment is managed centrally.)

Most of the jobs on the list must be completed perennially, but one is unique to this year. The checklist asks, “Are plans in place and materials ready for the September 7th Professional Development day for teachers?” That’s when all schools are supposed to offer training for teachers on how to bring new Common Core curriculum standards into their classrooms. The start of classes was pushed back one day to make room for the planning.

The complete checklist is below.

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