Superintendent Search

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 12th, 2020 at 8:38 PM

I would like to start this week by saying “Thank You” to the many people who have sent emails, texts, social media posts and personal congratulations on my intended retirement at the end of this year. It has been truly humbling to hear so many kind words from so many people.

Now that it is known that my position will be vacant, many people are wondering how it will be filled. This week, I thought I would explain some things about the superintendency and the process to occupy the office.

To become a superintendent, three things must happen: you must have the academic credentials; you must be elected by a board of education of a school district; and you must take an oath before a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, or the Secretary of Education.

In terms of credentials, the state controls certification for instructional and administrative positions. Some district employees possess various certifications, such as a CDL license or a technology certification, which may be done under the auspices of various agencies. But only the state Department of Education controls the certification for all instructional employees. A certification from the state to teach English, for example, means that a university has verified that the student has taken the courses and demonstrated the skills and competencies the state has outlined to be an English teacher. (The university has to have their program for English teacher certification approved by the state.) 

Once a teaching certificate is achieved, additional courses and internships can be engaged in to earn certification to become a principal, and beyond that, a superintendent. The academic qualification for superintendent is known as a “letter of eligibility.” There is no actual letter, just a line added on the certificate. Anyone who applies for a superintendent’s position must have this “letter of eligibility.”

Without it, there is no possibility of having the job. With the certificate, a board of education must then appoint the person by a majority vote (five votes) at a legally advertised meeting of the board. There are no requirements of how a school board must conduct a search, nor is there even a requirement that a search be conducted for the position. A board could simply say, we want to appoint this person.

Most boards, though, as will ours, conduct a search. Advertising is done in publications read by school administrators who would have the credentials to apply for the job. Since the applicant pool is going to be restricted to those with the academic credential, advertising the position directly to that pool makes the most sense.

A few years ago, we hired consultants to help us develop a best practice hiring system for teachers and other employees, using a point system tied to job duties. That process has been bringing us excellent employees, and the board plans to use it in the process to find a new superintendent.

Once the board selects the person they want to lead the district, they will put it to a vote at a meeting in late April or early May. They will issue a contract for 3-5 years, in accordance with state regulations that specify these terms as the only acceptable for a superintendent’s contract. Once approved, that person will then make an appointment with a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, who will administer the oath of office. Once the judge signs a form attesting that the oath was taken, it will be sent to the state where the Secretary of Education will issue a commission for the new superintendent. 

Many people don’t realize it, but superintendents are commissioned officers of the state. The commission will expire at the end of the contract with the possibility of being renewed by the board. If the board renews a superintendent’s contract, he or she must again take the oath of office and go through the commissioning process with the state.

The state is really big on having just one person responsible for a school district.

Districts are required by law to have a superintendent — but just one at a time. So, at midnight on June 30, my commission will expire, and on July 1, the commission of my successor will become active. The reins will be passed on.

Tags: local

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