School & District Management Reporter's Notebook

Superintendent-Principal Juggles 2 Jobs in Illinois

By Jessica L. Tonn — October 31, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

When an audience member at a conference here asked David D. Gilliland last week what things don’t get done in his district because he serves as both the superintendent and the only high school principal, he fired off an answer right away.

“A social life,” he said without hesitation.

Mr. Gilliland, 48, who has been the superintendent of the 460-student Spoon River Valley, Ill., school district and the principal of its 200-student high school for the past two years, minced no words when describing the challenges of his job. He spoke during a session titled “The Balancing Act of Being Superintendent/Principal” at the National Rural Education Association’s annual conference.

Ever since the district, located 30 miles west of Peoria, decided to combine the two jobs to save money, Mr. Gilliland said, he has had to “live the school and live the district.”

And even within the district, he doesn’t have time for everything.

“I don’t get into the classroom as much as I would like, and that makes me feel bad,” said Mr. Gilliland, a former high school English teacher who has been an educator for 27 years.

But the combined role is not without its benefits.

As the superintendent, he has a much better feel for the district’s budget and spending priorities than most principals. For example, when a high school teacher comes to him with a spending request, he can respond right away.

“I don’t have to go to the superintendent [for the answer],” he said. “I am the superintendent.”

In that role, he’s able to make quick decisions with the school board about alternative academic opportunities for his students, such as dual-credit programs and online courses. He also has direct control over teaching assignments and student placements in his school.

Mr. Gilliland earns $80,000 a year as superintendent and $25,000 as principal. The district estimates that it saves $50,000 a year by having him fill both positions. The district’s annual budget is $3.8 million.

That savings is nearly equal to the salaries of two teachers, according to Mr. Gilliland. The district has a total of 28 teachers, including those for special education. In addition to the grade 7-12 high school, the district has a K-6 elementary school.

Escalante Middle School is two miles away from the edge of Durango, a Colorado town of 15,000.

Eighty-six miles outside Denver, South Park High School in Fairplay, Colo., is “two miles from nothing,” Douglas E. Geverdt, a social and demographic statistician with the U.S. Census Bureau, told the 260 attendees at one of the Oct. 23-25 conference’s general sessions.

Under the geographic classification system used since the 1980s by the National Center for Education Statistics, both are classified as rural schools. But because the classification system uses county lines to delineate metropolitan areas, Escalante is considered outside a metropolitan area, while South Park is considered inside.

Such examples have led the statisticians at the NCES and the Census Bureau to revise the locale classifications over the past two years.

As a result, small-town and rural schools will now be defined by their proximity to urban centers.

Under the new typology, Escalante is classified as a “rural fringe” school, and South Park is “rural remote.”

“In a rural situation, you kind of want to know how far away you are from what,” Mr. Geverdt said.

Thirty-three high school students at the Van Buren Technology Center in Lawrence, Mich., volunteered their time to prepare 322 federal and state income-tax returns for community members last spring.

None of those 322 returns was flagged by the Internal Revenue Service for missing information or errors. It was the only tax-preparation site in the state of Michigan to have a perfect record, program organizers say.

The students’ efforts earned the 2006 NREA Community and Rural Education Service, or CARES, award for the 17,700-student Van Buren Intermediate School District. The award, which includes a $5,000 prize for the district, was presented to Tom Richardson, a business, finance, and management teacher at Van Buren, and Seth Carlson, an 18-year-old freshman at Hope College in Holland, Mich., who led the project as a senior last school year.

Each student who participated in the program received 13 college credits and became certified by the IRS to work for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistant Program. VITA sites serve individuals who earn $38,000 or less per year.

The students filed tax returns that resulted in $257,000 in refunds for residents, according to Mathew T. Dutkiewicz, a senior vice president of Great American Financial Resources Inc., the Cincinnati-based financial- and retirement-planning company that sponsors the award.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the November 01, 2006 edition of Education Week


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management How 'Vaccine Discrimination' Laws Make It Harder for Schools to Limit COVID Spread
In Montana and Ohio, the unvaccinated are a protected class, making it tough to track and contain outbreaks, school leaders say.
4 min read
Principal and District Superintendent Bonnie Lower takes the temperature of a student at Willow Creek School as the school reopened, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Willow Creek, Mont.
Bonnie Lower, a principal and district superintendent in Willow Creek, Mont., checks the temperature of a student as Willow Creek School reopened for in-person instruction in the spring.
Ryan Berry/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP
School & District Management Opinion 'Futures Thinking' Can Help Schools Plan for the Next Pandemic
Rethinking the use of time and place for teachers and students, taking risks, and having a sound family-engagement plan also would help.
17 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion The Consequence of Public-Health Officials Racing to Shutter Schools
Public-health officials' lack of concern for the risks of closing schools may shed light on Americans' reticence to embrace their directives.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management Opinion Best Ways for Schools to Prepare for the Next Pandemic
Being better connected to families and the community and diversifying the education workforce are some of the ways to be ready.
14 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty