Mississippi State Superintendent Tom Burnham has asked the state legislature for $2.5 million to launch a training program for district leaders, saying some of the leaders have “been asked to do things they don’t know how to do.”
The request was reported by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, which noted in the article that 60 of the states'152 school superintendents are new this year. Seven of those districts have state-appointed conservators.
The turnover comes from retirements and elected superintendents either choosing not to run again, or being defeated in their re-election bids. From the article:
Many of the new superintendents have worked in education as principals or central office administrators, including some assistant superintendents, said Dwight Luckett, superintendent of Canton schools and president of MASS [the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents.] MASS also offers training that new superintendents who are members are encouraged to attend. What also would help would be more collaboration between superintendents, Luckett said."
That opinion is shared by Joyce B. McNair, the executive director of the Delta Area Association for Improvement of Schools and a former elected superintendent. From from 2000 to 2007, she led the 1,800-student Humphreys County School District in Belzoni, about 70 miles north of Jackson.
McNair told me that the state offered a training program that allowed her to focus on administration issues during monthly meetings with other new district leaders. “That was the best training we could have had,” she said.
McNair said she didn’t know if the Mississippi was planning to follow a similar model for this new superintendents’ academy but having a cohort of fellow leaders to talk to about problems and concerns was valuable to her, even though she became superintendent after working in the central office. “When you become superintendent, there can be so many things hitting you that you never think about,” she said.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.