By GreatSchools Staff
The superintendent of a school district sets the direction and tone while responding to the often competing demands of the board of trustees, administrators, teachers, parents, students and the community.
The superintendent is the CEO of the school district. He or she sets the tone, charts the course of the district, and works closely with the board of trustees. The superintendent is also responsible for hiring and supervising the other administrators in the district, including the chief financial officer and the school principals.
Working with the board can pose significant challenges for the superintendent. The board is the superintendent's boss. They are responsible for hiring and firing the superintendent, and evaluating his or her performance on a regular basis. Since it is an elected body, new members might be chosen every few years. This change can create a different dynamic in the relationship with the superintendent from year to year, depending on who is elected.
The principals are the key leaders at each school. It is the superintendent's job to evaluate their performance and see to it that they are effective leaders, working with the teachers at the school to serve the needs of students and meet the district goals.
The superintendent must also respond to the demands of all the other constituencies in the district: the teachers, students, parents, staff and the community at large. He or she must consider how to allocate the financial and human resources of the district in order to achieve the best results. While being mindful of all the competing demands, a great superintendent will ultimately be guided by a singular question: What is best for all students?
The board of trustees is responsible for setting the policies of the district, overseeing the budget and hiring/firing the superintendent. The board and superintendent work together to establish goals for the district, and then the superintendent must see to it that the goals are met. In a well-run district, the superintendent is evaluated regularly by the board, based on the goals that they have jointly set. The superintendent takes the broad goals set by the board and translates them into real programs that achieve results.
If your child is having a problem in his classroom, you should first communicate with the teacher. If you feel that the teacher is not responding adequately, contact the principal. If communication fails with the principal, then take the problem to the superintendent. Most superintendents will want to know that you have attempted to handle a problem in this way before bringing it to their attention.
If you have a concern that applies to the entire school district (such as declining achievement levels throughout the district or mass flight out of the district), then approach the superintendent.
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