Choosing Your Interim School Leader

By David Gee, Jan Hammond, and Ann Myers

You’re the president of your school board, and your superintendent has just accepted a new position. He’s given you 60 days’ notice, as required in his contract. You select a search consultant, and you’re startled to find out that it will take up to a year to complete a superintendent search, including gathering input from your staff, parents, and community. None of your administrators has expressed a desire to fill the superintendent’s job.

You and your board colleagues are wondering what to do, since laws or regulations require that a district must have a superintendent. The search consultant reassures you that your situation is common, and produces a list of names of retired superintendents who could serve as an interim. You’ll need to make your decision quickly, because two neighboring districts also are looking for an interim and might snap up the best candidates.

The rush to hurry up and find an interim is an all-too-familiar scenario. In New York state alone, more than 40 out of 733 districts posted vacancies this year. In New Jersey, about 80 interims are serving as school superintendents. A decade ago, the number would have been about one-eighth of that total.

The list of quality interim superintendents is becoming a premium. As the superintendent’s job becomes more and more demanding, boards of education are signing on interims for even longer periods of times -- sometimes two, three, and four years -- just so they can ensure that the person at the helm is the right fit. So, as a board member, how do you know what to look for in an interim?

Would you like to continue reading?
Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.