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What does a Superintendent of Schools do?

By Felicia Dye
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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One of the highest positions in a municipality’s education system is the superintendent of schools. Many people realize that such a position exists but they are not aware of what it entails. In a nutshell, the superintendent of schools is the person responsible for the overall functioning of the entire system.

If an education system is viewed as a business, the superintendent of schools could be viewed as a CEO. With many businesses, there are numerous branches. At the head of each there may be authority figures, but there is one individual at the very top of the chain of command that oversees them all. In an educational system, even though there may be many schools, with principals acting as leaders of their facilities, the CEO is the superintendent of schools.

In a business there are stakeholders. In the school system, there are various groups that can fall into this category. These include principals, teachers, students, parents, and city council members. A superintendent may have to deal with issues that arise with any of these groups.

Parents may confront the superintendent of schools when they have a problem with the head of a particular facility. Teachers may confront the superintendent with similar concerns or concerns about working conditions. City council members may confront him when there are issues of high drop-out rates or violence. Some actions that involve students, such as expulsion, may require the consent or involvement of the superintendent.

It is usually his job to make sure all the educational facilities he oversees meet the standards required of them. These may be set through legislation or by the superintendent of schools himself. When facilities do not meet standards, it is his job to do something about it.

Part of making sure that schools are properly and effectively operating involves making sure the right people are in the right positions. Much of the hiring done within the education system is conducted by the superintendent of schools. Depending on the position, he may directly do the interviewing and hiring. In some instances, he may only approve a decision made by someone else.

Ensuring the financial health of the schools he oversees is also a common responsibility. There may or may not be financial staff to assist with this. Ultimately, however, it is generally the superintendent of schools who will make final decisions, such as approval of an annual budget.

The financial welfare of the school may depend on this individual being an effective solicitor of funds. To fill this role, he may have to apply for grants. It is also likely he will have to draft proposals and demands for funding from state and local governments.

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