Presented at The Annual Meeting of the University Council for Educational Administration: Cincinnati, OH, November 1, 2001. 17 pages. http://www.ucea.org.
Historically in the United States, states have delegated much of their authority over educational policy to local school districts. However, reform and restructuring efforts as well as a weakening economy have placed enormous political and financial pressure on schools to do more with less, yet continue to demonstrate effective leadership at the district level. Research literature focused on district leadership indicates that the relationship between the superintendent and board of education has a significant impact on the quality of a district's educational program.
This conceptual paper explores the implications of three distinct trends on the relationship between superintendents and boards of education: (1) changing demographics; (2) changes brought about by school reform; and (3) changes in superintendents themselves. The heart of this paper explores the impact of these trends on superintendent-board relationships in the future. After examining current research on superintendent-board relations, the paper examines recent demographic trends and speculates whether changing demographics would alter, in any substantive way, relations between superintendents and boards of education. In a similar vein, how do reforms such as the development of more comprehensive accountability systems (often tied to performance or merit pay for administrators) and changes in school governance models (such as the Chicago model) impact the relationship between superintendents and their school boards? Finally, how do changes in superintendents themselves-in their training and work experiences-affect their relations with school boards? Essentially, we ask whether any of these changes will influence or alter relations between superintendents and school boards and, if so, in what ways? The essay concludes by posing a series of "Interesting Questions" meant to stimulate discussion and further research into board-superintendent relations.