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What Is the Role of a Public School Superintendent?


Since the late 19th century, school districts have relied on superintendents to lead public schools. Today's superintendent can be considered the CEO of a school district, overseeing both its large-scale planning and daily operations. As the senior leader of their district, a superintendent must have a clear understanding of how to work with others to establish long-term goals and take the necessary steps to achieve those goals. Superintendents have multiple responsibilities, ranging from collaboration with government and community entities to managing day-to-day operations and financial matters for the district.

As the representative for their district's interests, a superintendent must be thoroughly trained in collaborative leadership practices, large-scale planning, employee management and budgetary responsibility. In addition, superintendents must be knowledgeable and experienced in the field, both inside and outside the classroom. Therefore, a teaching certificate, a minimum of three years' experience in the classroom and at least one year experience in an administrative leadership role are required to enroll in an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership, Superintendency online program.

Arkansas State University's program in educational leadership with a focus on superintendency is a post-master's degree specifically for those who have the necessary experience and desire to become a public school superintendent. Unlike a doctorate program that typically emphasizes research, A-State's Ed.S. program emphasizes job skills directly related to the role of superintendent so graduates can receive important job training and be placed in a superintendent role in less time.

Establish a Collaborative Communication Strategy

Your school district's board of education both hires the district's superintendent and is the superintendent's overseeing entity. Therefore, a district's superintendent and board of education must work together to establish goals and guide the community. According to the National School Public Relations Association, as a superintendent, you are "responsible for creating a culture of effective communication that supports your district's mission of providing quality education to the students you serve."

A-State's postgraduate program trains graduates to communicate with others for large-scale goal setting and relationship-building with key stakeholders. Intensive coursework in school district administration can offer you the knowledge and experience needed to establish a clear vision for your district alongside stakeholders and implement that vision in strategic ways.

Lead the District

Superintendents work with boards and other district leaders to manage daily operations. As a superintendent, you will be responsible for hiring and terminating decisions and regularly evaluating school leadership, such as principals and assistant principals. Superintendents are also directly responsible for hiring and maintaining support personnel in their districts, such as administrative professionals, maintenance staff, security, food and transportation employees and more.

To effectively manage support staff and ensure smooth operations at all levels, superintendents must be adequately familiar with school personnel administration. Therefore, when you enroll in A-State's Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, Superintendency online program, you receive management training in personnel and operational systems.

Provide a Financial Backbone

Another primary role of a superintendent is managing district budgets. School finance is a complicated area, as funding often changes each year for public school districts. It is up to the superintendent to ensure fiscal responsibility while allotting funds for student achievement and safety.

Graduates of A-State's program receive direct training in school business management as well as a supervised internship. Armed with both the knowledge and firsthand experience of superintendency, graduates can confidently handle the complicated landscape of district financing.  

If you hold a master's degree along with the required experience to become a superintendent, A-State's program may be right for you. You can gain firsthand job experience in the role and build skills that pertain directly to your future as a superintendent. In addition, you will gain the knowledge and confidence to work with district leaders and staff on steering, maintaining and improving your school district in meaningful ways.

Learn more about Arkansas State's online Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, Superintendency online program.


Sources:

AASA: The School Superintendents Association: Milestones in AASA's History (1865-2015)

National School Public Relations Association: Communication Matters for Leading Superintendents

Research in Educational Administration & Leadership: Superintendent Roles as CEO and Team Leader



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