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School Superintendents: The Importance and Value of Leadership

Recently the Children's Education Alliance of Missouri posted a "Missouri Superintendent Contract Finder."  It is important to occasionally remind citizens of the immense scope of the superintendent position.  Please see the document below as a sample discussion guide/press release about the work of the superintendent.



School Superintendents:  The Importance and Value of Leadership

It is not unusual for school administrator salaries to be a topic of interest.  Superintendents, in particular, are often among the highest paid public employees in any community… and they should be. 

The first duty of the school board – a locally elected, locally controlled entity -- is to hire a quality individual to serve as the chief executive officer for their school district.  The expectations of the superintendent are many and the bar is set high.  What are these expectations and what type of person can fulfill them?

In essence, a school district is a microcosm of its community, so the superintendent is ultimately responsible for the following:  (change statistics to fit district)

  • A budget of $90 million dollars:  the superintendent is the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation
  • The education of 10,000 students whose needs are many and varied
  • Working with and keeping families informed of the education of their children
  • The hiring, retention and professional development of more than 650 professional staff and another 600 support staff
  • Overseeing a facility plant of 17 buildings including 11 elementary schools, an early childhood center, two middle schools, two high schools and a vocational education building.
  • Interacting and working collaboratively with leaders of other public and private entities to keep the schools strong
  • Responding to the increasing demands and regulation required of schools by state and federal government.

If one were to compare what superintendents are expected to do – with the understanding that they are ultimately responsible for the young people of our community – their salaries should compete favorably with those in the private sector; however, in most cases they fall short in comparison.

School boards are the local, elected representatives of their community.  It is incumbent upon them that the superintendent that they hire possess a number of attributes including:

  • Experience and knowledge of public education in general and their school district specifically
  • Stability:  schools need continuity, not chaos
  • A level of expertise in the many areas of education including
    • School finance
    • Human resources
    • Communications
    • Curriculum
    • Special Education
    • Food and Transportation Services
    • School law
    • Federal programs
  • Professionalism
  • Ability to understand the expectations of a community and the capacity to put people and programs in place to meet those expectations

The word “leadership” is the ultimate key.  Hiring and retaining excellent leaders is what communities should expect.  School boards know this and strive to employ those with excellent leadership abilities and pay them accordingly.


Superintendents Leaders and Salaries 2.8.16.docx