Throughout the land, superintendents lament their boards’ tendency to “micromanage.”
Although some board members might agree, many argue that they are merely doing their jobs, primarily overseeing the operation of the district to be sure things are working the way they should. And in truth, they are doing the work of the board, as they have defined it.
So this is the challenge: simply redefine the role of the board.
Superintendents shudder to think about them. School boards dread them. Many avoid them, which is worse than dreading them. Nobody looks forward to them.
And it’s no wonder. Most superintendent evaluation “processes” (we use the term loosely) have little or nothing to do with job performance, and usually all to do with whether board members like the superintendent’s style, appearance, or other subjective or amorphous criteria.
Sometimes real life defies explanation. Some realities vary so greatly from logic that we see, but we can’t believe. We may even accept, but we can’t understand.
Such is the case with school board-superintendent relationships. How can one explain how such seemingly complementary roles can clash so greatly in practice? How can one employing entity so proudly announce to the world its “nearly perfect” choice for superintendent one year, only to see the wheels come completely off within a matter of months? What is it about this relationship that makes it so seemingly impossible for the people involved to reach common understanding about whose role it is to do what? And why is it that reasonable role definitions are so perpetually elusive?