NEW PORT RICHEY — When Steve Knobl took over as Gulf High School principal four years ago, his sons were young and not so involved in outside activities.
Now they're 10 and 7, playing soccer and participating in school events. And their dad wants to be able to spend more time with them.
But being a high school principal, with multiple evening activities and increasing work demands, didn't permit Knobl, 40, much time for family. So he's decided to move on.
He has accepted a position as dean of academic affairs at the Rasmussen College New Port Richey campus. His final day at Gulf will be April 12.
"I'm just at a point in my life where I was ready to see if this would give me the time piece with my family and also give me a different career challenge," said Knobl, who joined the school district in 1994 and recently earned his doctorate from the University of South Florida. He will oversee curriculum and instruction at Rasmussen's New Port Richey campus.
Campus president Claire Walker said Knobl's energy, leadership skills and proven track record made him the ideal candidate to take the dean's post.
"Everything about him fits the profile of what we want," Walker said.
Gulf High also recently lost an assistant principal, Florence Buono, putting the leadership team down two. That gives the district an added urgency in finding a new principal as soon as possible, said Beth Brown, executive director of secondary schools.
"We will advertise the position as soon as possible," Brown said. "We want to get a good strong administrator in there and round out that team."
Finding and keeping high school principals has become a more difficult endeavor in recent years because of stresses like those Knobl described, said Mel Riddile, associate director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
A typical day finds a high school principal at work before sunrise and still there 12 to 14 hours later, Riddile said.
And that's before tacking on after-school activities that take place at least three days a week.
"And the demands on the principal have changed," he added.
Whereas once the job was mostly managing school operations, the role of instructional leader charged with raising test scores has been added. There's also the work of dealing with parents, a professional staff, students and the community.
"You have a complex, multifaceted job that is getting harder to do every day," Riddile said. "It's not a job that people today are standing in line" to do.
Brown said she expected the position to attract "many aspiring leaders who are ready" to run a high school.
Knobl said he looked forward to having continued connections to the district, primarily through Rasmussen's ties to the high school career academies.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected], (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.