Tending the Board-Superintendent Relationship

By Doug Eadie

It takes two to do the partnership tango. At the heart of every solid board-CEO working relationship that I have observed over the years, including school boards and their superintendents, is a CEO who is truly “board-savvy.”

Foremost, the board-savvy superintendent sees the board as a precious asset to be deployed fully on behalf of the district’s educational mission. The board-savvy superintendent is not defensive in dealing with the board, and does not see working with its members as a damage-control challenge.

Superintendents who do this work well invariably make building the board’s capacity to do high-impact governing one of their highest priorities. In practice, this means they don’t sit back and wait for the board to get itself together as a governing body, nor do they sit around bemoaning the fact that they are stuck with less-than-qualified members doing less-than-stellar governing work.

On the contrary, they are on a mission to help the board get better in every aspect of governing, even if this means employing some circuitous strategies.

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