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Column One: Administrators

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The American Association of School Administrators has released a report that attempts to demystify the relationship between school boards and superintendents.

The school officials who were surveyed for "Building Better Board-Administrator Relations'' agreed that boards and superintendents are forging strong, cooperative relationships in order to design and implement effective school policies.

But the respondents also said that economic, political, and social pressures, and a "lack of clarity in their roles,'' threaten to cause conflicts or misunderstandings between school leaders.

The report was prompted by recent news stories about the departure of superintendents in several high-profile school districts around the country. The media attention highlighted the possibility that the superintendency was becoming a short-term position due to board-administrator conflicts, the A.A.S.A. said.

While the report notes that the tenure for most superintendents in urban, rural, and suburban districts is more than six years, the A.A.S.A. has identified ways that school districts can reduce the turnover rate by building more effective leadership teams.

Copies of the 128-page report are available for $14.95 each, plus $3.50 shipping and handling, from the American Association of School Administrators, Publications Department, 1801 North Moore St., Arlington, Va. 22209-9988.


Meanwhile, a survey released last month by the Illinois Association of School Boards finds that board members and superintendents in many school districts around the nation have been slow to initiate change.

About one-quarter of the 900 board presidents and administrators surveyed by the association said that budget shortfalls, laws and regulations, and personal or political agendas are impediments to change. Superintendents rated personal agendas of board members as the leading cause of policy gridlock.

Like school officials interviewed for the A.A.S.A. report, board members said their leadership role had become less clear over the past five years. They also said they hoped to spend more time focusing on educational issues and less time on budget and financial matters.

Superintendents indicated that working with students and exercising leadership are the most rewarding aspects of their jobs; developing better relations with the board rated as the least rewarding.

Free copies of the survey are available from the Illinois School Boards Association, Publications Department, 1209 South Fifth St., Springfield, Ill. 62703; (217) 528-9688, ext. 108.--J.R.

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