Superintendent of Schools Jobs
Taking the leading role for every school and every student in the entire district, the superintendent position is full of responsibility. The overall goal for a school superintendent is to improve every aspect of the school district. The superintendent must be a very community oriented figure who is dedicated to education, the school environment, and the community as a whole.
Some districts may also employ an assistant superintendent to help handle the many responsibilities of the superintendent.
To land a superintendent job, at minimum, you need to have a master’s degree in education administration. Many also have a doctorate. The field of education administration covers fiscal policy, school law, and educational theories. Most superintendents begin their career as teachers and work their way up to the top executive position. Some school districts are now examining former successful professionals from the business and military fields. The school board chooses and hires the superintendent. It is not uncommon for superintendents to be hired for an interim basis before entering a longer contract.
The average salary for a school superintendent ranges from US$87,148 to US$152,797 according to PayScale.com. An average salary of US$125,096 was reported by the American Association of School Administrators for the 2007-2008 school year. Superintendents in larger school districts tend to earn towards the higher end of the scale.
There is a shortage of superintendents, especially in urban school districts that are in poor shape financially and academically. The turnover rate is 2.5 years in the urban setting compared to the average length of seven to nine years in the position according to Stateline.org. Additionally, a large number of superintendents are reaching retirement age. The shortage may lead to increased salaries for superintendents. When schools are continually rehiring new superintendents, it is difficult to implement successful practices.
The superintendent must work closely with the school board – the policy and legislative branch of public education. While the superintendent cannot vote on issues, she is the key communicator to the board of what is occurring within the school district. She is expected to deliver unbiased, professional advice for any policies the school board is considering. The superintendent prepares the agenda for all school board meetings and voices communication from the teaching staff.
Furthermore, the superintendent should be visible in the school and community life. While not required, superintendents are typically expected to appear at various sporting and arts events. The media will often contact the superintendent for interviews regarding school issues. As a spokesperson for the entire school system, the superintendent must be a capable communicator.
In an age of accountability, superintendents are increasingly concerned and held responsible for their district’s performance on standardized tests. The superintendent should have an overall knowledge of the instruction practices used within the district. Professional development and career training opportunities are created and planed with the help of other education administrators.
Any problems faced by the school district should be under study. The superintendent should be aware of how problems are being addressed and monitoring the progress of solutions. Extreme behavior problems may need to be addressed by the superintendent. Collaboration with principals and other administrators is key.
When weather conditions like fog or snow cause inclement weather, the superintendent and transportation director must decide if school should be cancelled or delayed. Since the decision is made before the first bus leaves, early mornings are involved.
Construction of new school buildings and large renovation projects are overseen by the superintendent. Bids are taken and accepted by the superintendent and board to begin construction. The superintendent must stay up to date on all building progress and enforce a timeline to the extent possible.
The hiring process of all staff is typically under the superintendent’s control until hiring decisions are officially decided on by the school board. Some superintendents have the principals do all the interviews, but it is also common for superintendents to have a final interview with the best candidates.
When accusations and complaints are filed against school employees, the superintendent is responsible for investigating the situation and informing the board.
Overall district budgeting is a main concern of the superintendent. He works closely with the district’s treasurer to manage the budget and produce possible future budgets. A yearly budget must be submitted to the school board. For districts that rely on local taxes for funding, campaigns for levies and renewals are a time consuming and vital part of the job.
Superintendents are the main political figure in the school. When the district is flourishing, this can be a benefit, but frequently it is a stressor and cause for the high turnover and shortage of superintendents. “There is a general lack of respect for the superintendent. They become someone to attack when things don’t go well,” reports education expert Bruce Cooper, co-author of a study titled “Career Crisis in the School Superintendency.”
As the top executive position, superintendents must love their community, schools, and most of all the students. The level of work that is required garners higher wages in other fields, yet there is a satisfaction that comes from creating a successful and continually improving school district that cannot be found in the business realm. A good superintendent makes all decisions with the best interest of students in mind, and any career that focuses on the hopes of a bright future from a strong education system is rewarding.
The following resource offers additional information.
Urban Superintendent’s Association of America