Education Opinion

True Confessions of a New Superintendent

By LeaderTalk Contributor — January 29, 2009 2 min read

Here it is. I’ve become completely and utterly consumed by my new job as superintendent of schools. The entire rest of the world is passing me by. I meant to turn on the TV to watch the inauguration, I really did. I thought about buying a few magazines that showed pictures and reported on it, but remembered the pile of educational journals and newspapers waiting for me to read. I know the Steelers are playing in the Super Bowl this weekend, but only because my mom and dad are lunatic Steeler fans (I’m from Pittsburgh) and every email from my mom says “Go Steelers!” in it.

At a BOE meeting last week, a BOE member said something about checking with our cafeteria manager to be sure we were addressing any potential problems with peanut paste. I smiled politely and took notes. The next morning I had to ask our business official what was going on to which he exclaimed, “several people have DIED Kim!” It’s embarrassing and hard to explain.

I am absolutely immersed in this job, thinking about it 24/7. Hey, it’s a weighty responsibility! When considering the tasks at hand, how can I not be on target every minute? Consider the risks at hand. I’m making decisions about people’s jobs, their possible increases, the capital project, the possible next capital project. I’m studying the budget, where we have to cut now, where we may have to cut depending upon our final state aid, and how we can sustain our current fiscal picture without squandering any and all fund balance within the next two years.

I’ve got running lists for everything from BOE meetings to admin meetings to school attorneys to union representatives. Then I’ve got lists for short term and long term projects, KSM notes, items to communicate to the public, and general “to do”. (My family would note that I’ve got lists for everything but groceries, which have been in short supply.)

If I read the papers, it’s the local one to see if there’s any news of our school or athletes. Instead of reading about local and national news, I’m thinking about how to communicate with our community and posting to my school blog. Trust me, this blog post is not a complaint, I’m loving the work. It’s more an acknowledgment of just how single mindedly and deeply I’ve fallen into this role.

What makes matters worse is my blackberry funnels email to me 24/7. My husband is as irritated with my attachment to the blackberry as I used to be with my teenage son’s constant texting. I may turn on the morning news but only if it’s to watch the weather on a morning when I’m considering a delay or school closing.

Attend a meeting to talk about the calendar with other superintendents? Are they crazy? I can’t afford the time to drive two hours to the meeting, plus the time at the meeting. What about my commitment to spending a day per week walking through classrooms in each building? I’m in the buildings, visiting on a limited basis, but nothing like I’d planned for “my superintendency”.

I seriously need to find some balance. To turn off my head. To stop thinking about the job. I need to unplug from time to time. Someone tell me, will it always be like this?

Kimberly Moritz

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.