Overview of the Superintendent
The position of school superintendent has been compared to the CEO of a corporation. As with the CEO, he/she is a leader, manager, administrator, decision-maker, and advocator. The superintendent worked his/her way through the ranks of administration within the school system. The path usually begins as a teacher, to assistant principal, to principal, to assistant superintendent, or deputy superintendent. In the CEO comparison, he/she has also progressed through layers of management.
In large companies, there is a board of directors. This group generally selects the CEO. In many instances, with public corporations, the board has the power to force the resignation of the CEO. Similarly, the superintendent must prove his/her leadership qualities to be appointed by the school board. In both these cases, the deciding boards want the person who displays excellent management and communication skills.
Some counties have several school districts, each with its superintendent. The number of campuses also varies by region. Depending on the size of the county, the number of school districts could be several dozen.
The list is affected by the number of schools in the district, as well as the procedures and policies dictated by the school board. Here are some of the roles:
- Oversee and administer the financial operations of the district
- Confer with school staff and administrative staff on disciplinary action of teachers
- Ensure that schools follow the state and county educational programs and standards
- Instill confidence in the school board that your school district operates professionally and efficiently
- Discuss and inform the school board of performance of schools within the district
- Allocate human resources of the district for optimum results
- Become involved with teachers on complaints and issues expressed by parents
- Adopt a clear agenda for the school district
- Provide direction
- Attend community events that involve education
- Secures the employment of the most qualified and competent candidates for teachers, supervisory and administrative personnel
- Terminates or suspends employees within the district as the need dictates
- Holds meetings with teachers and principals concerning school improvements and welfare
- May act as a purchasing agent for the district to approve materials, books, and supplies
- Assess the challenges in low income and minority neighborhoods (where applicable)
- Report certified educators to the State Board of Education when a teacher commits an unlawful act with a student or minor
- Adhere to state guidelines when informed of a deed of misconduct involving a member of the educational or administrative staff
- Improve student achievement by establishing measurable goals
- Keeps the Board of Education apprised of educational developments statewide and nationally
- Disseminates information from Board meetings to school principals
- Evaluates the performance of all district personnel, such as school principals
The responsibilities of a superintendent are vast and variable. The duties may differ from a district superintendent to a county superintendent. The Broward County Public Schools Superintendent, for example, oversees 270,000 students in 337 schools, and 30,000 employees. It is the nation’s sixth-largest school district. By contrast, the Collierville School District in Tennessee has 8,385 public school students in Pre-K through grade 12.
Each district and county presents its share of challenges. The superintendent, who recognizes the problems within her/his district or county and implements solutions, will be successful. The endeavor requires cooperation and collaboration with the assistant administrators and all school staff. In certain respects, the superintendent acts as a facilitator in the educational process. For example, what can be done to improve Math or English proficiency?
When the state designates a school within your district or county as a D or F- this demands attention. By conferencing with the school staff, you create a plan for improvement. You use your leadership skills to raise teacher expectations and student achievement.
To accomplish any of the job duties, you must have practical leadership skills. No doubt, these attributes were evident during your years as a principal. Otherwise, you would not have reached this level. Therefore, communication, listening skills, commitment, flexibility, instructional leadership, public speaking, and confidence are essential. Also, when required, you should be politically minded. As you ascend in the school administrative system, you may encounter politics at the local and state levels.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the median salary for Educational Administrators for Elementary and Secondary Schools at $98,880. PayScale reports the average wage for school superintendents at $115,793. For comparison, salary.com has a range of $131,206 to $193,816 for superintendents.