Jim’s Notes on Superintendent Search Consultants

The selection of a new Superintendent of Schools is one of the most critical decisions in the life cycle of a school district.  Boards of Education are faced with the challenge of finding quality superintendents.  Social, economic, legal, and political issues have led to an evolution in the superintendent’s responsibilities, making the job more challenging and putting entering superintendents at risk.  Boards of Education seeking a superintendent may need help in marketing the vacancy and identifying viable candidates.

In New York State, as in many other states, the Superintendent of Schools is the Chief Executive Officer of the school district.  The Superintendent has many roles and leadership responsibilities.  New York State Law lists few specific superintendent duties, the detailed responsibilities primarily defined by Board policy [See Superintendent – Job Description] , contract {See: Superintendent Contract], and numerous Board resolutions.  Typical duties include; carrying out the directives of the Board of Education, district finances and budget development, program implementation and evaluation, negotiations and personnel matters, facilities administration, and policy recommendations.  The superintendent, as representative of the Board is responsible for all of the day-to-day operations of the district, as well as the communication, education, and team building with the Board.  The superintendent may, in larger school districts, supervise an administrative team.  The superintendent job responsibility makes it imperative that the superintendent have political and strategic leadership skills.  Technical understanding (instructional and operational leadership) of educational issues is important.  Interpersonal skills provide the foundation for success in the superintendency

Although school boards are ultimately responsible for selecting a new superintendent, search consultants may be used to screen candidates, select the final pool of candidates, develop a process for community involvement, and guide the board through the selection process.  It is important that the board understand search consultants and the boards’ responsibilities to superintendent candidates.