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superintendents

There is nothing new about the fact that school superintendents come and go. Some retire, and some are recruited into other school districts or opportunities. But let's face it, some are let go.

I've been personally and professionally blessed to have had the opportunity to serve some very diverse and large urban school communities in several states as superintendent of schools. These varied locales have given me the unique opportunity to look at the world of system reform through a broader range of lenses. These multiple perspectives have provided me with insights into the role state policies and infrastructure play in the pace at which systemic reforms can be implemented and accelerated.

A microcosm of the global education movement has materialized in Oxford (Mich.) Community Schools, home to 4,739 students in northern Oakland County. When Superintendent William Skilling started in 2007, he had a vision for a district immersed in global learning, foreign language, science and technology that resonated with the board of education—a vision the district didn't have, according to Colleen Schultz, school board president.

It came as no surprise to the residents of Mankato, Minn. last fall when Forbes magazine called the city a great place for raising a family. The population in the area served by Mankato Area Public Schools, which straddles three counties in the southern part of the state, has reached more than 50,000, thanks to business and recreational opportunities, a low cost of living, state-of the-art health care, great schools, and a welcoming attitude toward newcomers.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, addresses employees at a district recognition program.

A decade since it last did so, the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) has again revealed the ever-changing characteristics of school administrators. The American School Superintendent: 2010 Decennial Study, released Dec. 8, is the latest report in a series that has been conducted every 10 years since 1923.

One of the fringe benefits of editing District Administration is that I'm able to attend conferences and events and meet in person some of the rock stars of education, as I've come to think of them. Rock star status, by my definition, tends to be conferred upon people who are able to reach a large number of people with their work and, as a result, affect change.

The responsibilities of the modern school superintendent may already seem boundless, from making the most of shrinking budgets, to working 21st-century skills into the K12 curriculum, to meeting the escalating standards of NCLB testing. But thanks to the initiatives of two national organizations dedicated to improving the use of educational technology in schools, the job description just got longer.

There are plenty of statistics available for measuring the performance, potential and problems of school districts, from standardized test scores to the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

If you didn't get the raise you were hoping for recently, you're certainly not alone. Almost every day, it seems, school districts coping with budget shortfalls are announcing freezes or cuts to administrative salaries and benefits as part of the solution, a trend that began during the past school year and is becoming more prevalent around the country.

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