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What does a School Administrator do?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The job duties of a school administrator usually depend on their actual role within an education system. Principals, assistant principals, and school superintendents work closely together, and they all perform administrative duties. Typically, these duties include planning curriculum, planning school budgets, and meeting parents and other members of the community to help achieve common community goals for their specific school system.

Most of the time, budgeting is handled by the office of a school superintendent, however, budgeting will normally require input from school principals. Their budgets will earmark certain funds for recreation activities, educational tools, and teacher salaries. Different jurisdictions manage their school systems in varying ways, but often a single school district will receive funding from many different levels of government including regional, federal, and state. Most of the time, it is the responsibility of a school administrator to determine how to best allocate these funds.

Decision-making regarding school curriculum is another important responsibility of a school administrator, and these decisions may have long-lasting implications. Books and related learning tools to advance a core curriculum are often very expensive, and any chosen curriculums will usually stay in place for several years. It would be a poor reflection on a school administrator if a curriculum were chosen and then had to be abandoned due to poor performance. Most of the time, principals and superintendents discuss curriculum changes with teachers, because teachers can often better evaluate learning resources.

Another important responsibility of a school administrator is dealing with problems that may arise between parents, students, and teachers. Most of the time, school counselors first address these issues, but in many cases, a principal or an assistant principal may need to become involved. When it becomes necessary for an administrator to get involved in counseling decisions, it is usually due to problems associated with student behavior.

Most school systems have a hierarchy in place, with the school superintendent having top ranking of authority. Directly below superintendent levels are principals, and then assistant principals. All other employees within a school system fall under their direct administrative control.

The salary expectation for a school administrator varies greatly by geographic location and experience. In the United States (US), the average salary for a school principal is about $95,000 US dollars (USD), $75,000 USD for an assistant principal, and as much as $155,000 for a college dean. A superintendent of schools is typically an elected position, and the electing body usually determines salary.

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Discussion Comments
By jonrss — On Jan 17, 2012

My mom was the school secretary at my high school. This did not make me a very popular person because she was in charge of handing out tardy slips and absence excuses every morning. So every kid that came in late would have to pass by my mom, Mrs. Peterson's desk and explain why they couldn't show up on time.

She was a great mom and a sweet person but she ran that office with an iron fist and did not have a lot of sympathy for the late kids. She also had an amazing mental lie detector. Lots of kids ended up in detention because of her. You can imagine how that made me look.

By truman12 — On Jan 16, 2012

I worked for a very large high school in California that had almost 5,000 kids. We had a large facility and my job was primarily to make sure the school building and grounds were properly maintained and managed.

This meant that I had a lot of responsibilities. I was in charge of the maintenance and grounds crews that fixed leaks, mowed grass, did small renovations etc. I was also in charge of planning any new construction projects or major renovations. Plus I had to keep track of utilities costs, event planning, any complaints the students or staff had about the facilities. It was a big job. I work for a university now but that job was a great way to learn the ins and outs of school administration.

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