What Does the Superintendent Do?

The following is taken from Roles and Relationships, a joint publication of the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association.

The superintendent is the only employee hired directly by the school board and serves as the chief executive officer of the board with general supervision of the school system. The superintendent is not a member of the school board itself but serves as the professional educational adviser to the board.

The school board is a legislative and policy making body. The superintendent is hired to provide professional educational advice on policy development and implements the policies the board adopts.

The job description calls for the performance of the following duties: preparing the agenda for each meeting; preparing the annual budget for board consideration; preparing and submitting state and federal applications and reports; recommends the appointment and termination of all personnel; is responsible for the instructional program; maintains a continuous study of current problems; and determines the emergency discontinuance of school.

Other duties that are inherent in providing educational leadership for the school district includes the following: keeping board members informed about the needs of the district and about school operations and programs; providing for the continuous improvement of all facets of school district operations, especially as it relates to teaching and learning;encouraging long-range and strategic planning; ensuring that professional development opportunities are available for district employees; developing a public relations program. and to assure that all decisions are made with the best interests of students in mind.

A closing statement from the joint publication cited earlier gives school boards and superintendents guidance for the context of how both must view public schools: "Our public schools are the foundation of our democracy. They keep hope alive, and they open a world of possibility for our entire society. In fact our nation has survived and prospered precisely because it is firmly grounded in the concept of equal educational opportunity for all...Ultimately, the effectiveness of our public schools will determine our ability to sustain a free and democratic society."