A school superintendent is the top executive in a school district who makes the key decisions on spending, staffing and other educational policies. Often called the CEO of the school district, the superintendent manages the principals, administrative staff and other central employees within the district. Since superintendents in local school districts are hired by the school board, they must be experienced and equipped to deal with all of the demands of parents, staff members, student advocates, community interest groups, administration, and faculty.
What is the Primary Role of the Superintendent?
It is the superintendent’s job to put the vision of the elected officials on the school board into action by creating different programs and new policies. As the Chief Executive Officer of a district in a city, town, or county this professional is expected to manage financial resources and spending while also using human capital within the district to achieve goals.
To make spending, staffing and policy decisions, the superintendent must work closely with school leaders and the principals assigned to each school in the district. They will discuss the challenges present in each school and come up with action plans to get the best results. All of the decisions that the superintendent makes will be based on what is believed to be best for student interest and learning.
What Are Some of the Job Duties Performed on a Daily Basis?
Superintendents have very busy professional lives. While they are located in a district office, they may work in the field several days of the week. It is common to work long hours if you are a school executive. Here are some of the duties of the superintendent:
- Hiring senior staff
- Terminating staff
- Handling disciplinary action of teachers and administrative staff
- Managing the budget and spending
- Implementing state and federal programs for students
- Enforcing new statutes
- Setting standards to measure achievement
- Reviewing and modifying school curricula
- Instructional evaluation for performance improvement
- Reporting to school board
- Handling parent complaints
What Qualities Does a Superintendent Need to Have?
Not every professional within the field of education is fit to be a superintendent. It takes a special set of qualities to really climb the ladder and capture the attention of the school officials. Here are some of the best qualities that successful school superintendents possess:
- A great leader who is supportive
- A clear vision on how to implement new programs to benefit the district
- An effective communicator
- A good manager who can effectively evaluate a team
- A good listener who is open to hearing opposing views
- A risk taker who commits to challenging ideas
- A flexible person who can collaborate and deal with change
If this is the career that you want to pursue, your education level is extremely important. You must have a minimum of a Master’s degree in Education Administration but many districts prefer candidates who have a doctorate degree. Once you have administrative experience and have applied for a state license or certification, you will be considered qualified. Start to compare degree programs (please see: Top 15 Best and Most Affordable Graduate Educational Leadership Programs) and stay committed to your mission to become a school superintendent.