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A program goals to organize superintendents for the job’s realities


Among the many superintendents of 78 of the nation’s city college districts, simply 11 have been of their jobs since 2020.

That statistic startled Michael Hinojosa, a former chief of the Dallas Impartial College District who’s now superintendent-in-residence on the Council for the Nice Metropolis Colleges, a coalition representing these 78 districts.

The pandemic made superintendents’ jobs even tougher. On prime of their different duties, they needed to make choices about masking and vaccines and tackle such points as  group meals wants. The flare-up of the training tradition wars in 2021 additionally added to the pressures on districts’ prime directors. Some superintendents transitioned to different roles of their communities or districts, whereas others selected to retire, in response to Ray Hart, the council’s government director. 

Two years in the past, the council requested Hinojosa to create an initiative to develop folks for district management positions. Generally known as the Michael Casserly City Government Management Institute, the year-long program prepares city college district leaders to tackle the superintendent position by offering coaching on the largest challenges and tasks of the job post-pandemic, together with politics and scholar behavioral and psychological well being challenges. The institute accepts 10 candidates a yr who attend seven in-person, weekend-long classes along with digital conferences. 

“It’s a really complicated job,” stated Hinojosa, “and we wish to be sure you have a preventing probability for achievement.”

To design the curriculum, Hinojosa and his colleagues studied the qualities of profitable superintendents. Those that may create connections with board, employees and group members had a significantly better probability of thriving of their jobs, he stated. Based mostly on that analysis, the classes give attention to matters resembling college board relationships, finance and budgets, and media and politics. Instructors stroll candidates by actual case research of college districts, diagnosing issues and arising with potential options. 

Matias Segura was appointed interim superintendent of the Austin Impartial College District in December 2022, after 5 years because the district’s chief of operations. Across the identical time, he acquired a name from Hinojosa encouraging him to use for this system.

Cindy Marten, deputy secretary of training, speaks to a gaggle of district leaders on the Michael Casserly City Government Management Institute. Credit score: Alex Jones/Council for the Nice Metropolis Colleges

Segura stated this system has given him sensible coaching, in addition to entry to a community of different leaders who’re going through related challenges.

“What actually, actually helped,” he stated, “was find out how to be more practical when you’re within the seat.” In January, Segura was chosen to stay as Austin’s everlasting superintendent.

Hinojosa stated this system is attempting to pick candidates from underrepresented demographic teams. Nationwide, solely 4.4 p.c of superintendents are Black and three.1 p.c are Hispanic, in response to a 2023 survey by the College Superintendents Affiliation. Through the 2022-23 college yr, ladies made up 28 p.c of superintendents.

Along with Segura, the primary cohort included Ebony Johnson, who has since grow to be Tulsa Public Colleges superintendent, and Brenda Larsen-Mitchell, now interim superintendent for Clark County College District, in Nevada. 

Each have taken over districts whose challenges replicate the occasions: Johnson, the Tulsa district’s former chief tutorial officer, grew to become superintendent after former Superintendent Deborah Gist resigned to be able to keep away from a state takeover of the college system. Larsen-Mitchell, former deputy superintendent, was promoted after her predecessor took a buyout, following years of a tense relationship between the college board and educators. 

Segura stated a college chief preparation program is especially very important for city districts, a lot of which serve Black, Hispanic and emergent bilingual college students. 

“When you’ve got people who aren’t able to take the position, then our college students are going to be impacted, which is why this sort of cohort is so critically essential,” Segura stated. “A disruption will be catastrophic.”

This story about superintendents was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, unbiased information group targeted on inequality and innovation in training. Join the Hechinger publication.

The Hechinger Report offers in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on training that’s free to all readers. However that does not imply it is free to provide. Our work retains educators and the general public knowledgeable about urgent points at colleges and on campuses all through the nation. We inform the entire story, even when the main points are inconvenient. Assist us maintain doing that.

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