• Supporting and developing your superintendent

    Everyone agrees: All leadership functions need support and development elements to maximize excellence. 
    Mature boards model support and development by:
    • Focusing on policy leadership
    • Leading from a declared framework of motivating vision, powerful purpose, wildly important goals, operating norms and constantly expressed core values
    • Leading through the superintendent, the "paid extension" of the board
    • Governing as a group/unit/team (not a collection of individuals)
    • Actively appraising board work
    • Mentoring and being mentored
    • Learning constantly
    • Improving effort and impact
    • Being aware of the complexities of Colorado education
    Among the many superintendent "S&D" practices of a strong board:
    • Respectful, mature behavior
    • Clear board ownership of expectations and directives
    • Effective meeting focus and facilitation
    • Assumption of good intentions
    • Ongoing process for the superintendent's support, development, evaluation/appraisal, and healthy challenge
    • District investment in the superintendent's professional learning community, such as CASE
    • Performance planning and tracking
    • Understood contract
    • Work sessions and strategic meetings focused on the wildly important
    • Deliberative decision making
    • Listening/learning together
    • Continuous engagement with constituents
    • Affirmation of progress, celebration of achievements
    More insights, tips and tools:

    Evaluating the superintendent

    The responsibility to evaluate the superintendent’s performance rests exclusively with the board. [C.R.S. § 22-9-106(4)(b).] The evaluation process is often laid out in the superintendent’s contract and should be established well before the board sits down to formally evaluate the superintendent. It is important to think about evaluation as an ongoing process, not a single event. A good place to start the conversation is to mutually agree upon a mission, purpose and performance goals that will be discussed and monitored during the year. The board and superintendent should determine the best way to monitor progress on an ongoing basis.

    Eventually, as part of the annual formal summative evaluation of the superintendent, the board will prepare a written evaluation document. As a general rule, the evaluation document will:

    • Set forth recommendations and plans for improvement, including recommendations for additional education and training
    • Identify the superintendent’s performance strengths and weaknesses
    • Identify sources of data upon which the evaluation document is based

    The superintendent’s evaluation report is public information as it relates to the performance of the superintendent in fulfilling adopted school district objectives, fiscal management of the district, district planning responsibilities and supervision and evaluation of district personnel. [C.R.S. § 22-9-109(1)(a).] This means that most, if not all, of the superintendent’s summative evaluation report must be disclosed to the media and/or a member of the public upon request. Boards should confer with legal counsel before releasing the superintendent’s evaluation pursuant to an open records request.

    More insights, tips and tools:

    December 2017: New CASB toolbox for superindent evaluation, support, development, and healthy challenge.

    Terminating the relationship

    CASB believes that a critical link in the board’s responsibility to students is the superintendent’s success as an educational leader. The board should never retain an ineffective or unsatisfactory superintendent because of sentiment or lack of courage to terminate the employment relationship. It is important to have a frank and open discussion during the evaluation process to address issues that might affect the superintendent’s continued employment. In many instances, the identified deficiencies may be remediable. In others, the parties may mutually agree to part ways.

    When a change in the superintendency is necessary, the board should proceed in an orderly and courteous manner to accomplish the change with a minimum of confusion and disruption in the community.

    The superintendent’s contract will address how the employment relationship may be terminated—both voluntarily and involuntarily. CASB recommends that the board work with legal counsel to ensure that the termination of a superintendent’s employment complies with the provisions of the contract and applicable law.