- In a recent survey, most school superintendents, principals and other central office staff members say dwindling resources are leaving them with more responsibilities, according to a District Administration report on how the roles of educational leaders have shifted in recent years.
- The impact of technology, data management and social media concerns was one the of the top issues school leaders have to address now more than in the past.
- Other top concerns are the increasing time devoted to troubled students and families, the impact of education reforms, and ways to help schools and teachers implement innovative ideas.
Seven years ago, the American Association of School Superintendents released a report on the ever-changing role of the school superintendent. In the report, Theodore Kowalski, co-author of the study and a professor and Kuntz Family Endowed Chair of Educational Administration at the University of Dayton, wrote that one of the biggest changes was the impact of technology, noting, "Technology has raised the expectations for communications among key stakeholders and the community."
Now, technology remains at the forefront of challenges facing superintendents. Not only is technology changing quickly, but it also impacts more areas including the increasing focus on STEM teaching, greater dependence on technology for data-mining, and increasing social media opportunities and concerns. More than ever, superintendents need to surround themselves with competent professionals who can keep abreast of the changes in technology and how it impacts the community.
However, more personal challenges confront superintendents as well. With the rise in opioid addiction in communities and an increase in mental illness among students, more families are in crisis and these situations often spill over onto school grounds. Here, again, superintendents need to be skilled at hiring the correct people, such as counselors, to deal with these situations, to avoid burn out. Superintendents also can look at the value of incorporating more social-emotional learning in schools and helping schools become more trauma-sensitive to help deal with these issues. Above all, a good superintendent needs to maintain a clear vision and clearly communicate that vision to those he or she leads. In this aspect, at least, the role has not changed.