Renewing America's Progress: A Positive Solution to School Reform

By Fredric H. Genck | Go to book overview

24
Board/Superientendent Evaluation: Criteria and Process

One of the most difficult board responsibilities is evaluation of the superintendent. In a healthy situation there is a great deal of confidence and dependence on the superintendent by the board, since he is a fulltime professional chief executive, and they are part-time amateurs. Superintendents train and support their boards to make them look smart, even though the work of the district and support for the board are being provided by the staff. On the other hand, when some or all board members are not happy with the superintendent or are dissatisfied with the district's performance, the situation becomes more than a little awkward, and considerable diplomatic and managerial skills are required. Obviously this makes evaluation a delicate and difficult challenge at best. In spite of the inherent challenge of evaluating the superintendent.. this is the board's greatest single point of leverage for improving school performance and management. If a board fails to persuade its superintendent of the desirability of moving in the direction of participative management and measuring results, and to hire a superintendent based on these criteria, then evaluation is not likely to be very effective.

Although there is a natural potential conflict of interest in representing both the community and the staff that can manifest itself at the board/superintendent interface, it is surprising how well this works in most situations. Usually this is because of the skill and integrity of the superintendent in balancing various, sometimes conflicting, interests and recommending an appropriate course of action to the board. Frankly, it is surprising, given the political arena in which superintendents operate, the high level of national concern about schools today, and the

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