From “Change Happens” Shifting student demographics, growing economic threats from overseas, and mounting pressure from state governments and the federal No Child Left Behind Act mean school districts will most certainly be changed in the near future, whether they initiate it or have it forced upon them. Yet many of us know little about the dynamics of this inevitable process or how we might make it work to our advantage.
Other “Change” Challenges Workforce: Aging and mobile Average tenure of urban superintendents is 2.3 to 5 years, depending on which report you read. More than half of the nation’s superintendents in a number of states are at retirement age. According to the two leading principals’ associations, more than half of the nation’s school districts reporting shortages of top candidates Half of teachers leave profession within first five years. Average employee will switch jobs 7 times in his/her professional career.
Poll: What do you see as the most pressing “change challenge” that you face? A. Shifting demographics B. Top-down accountability without appropriate financial resources C. Aging workforce/recruiting issues If you have another, more pressing challenge, it to Kathleen Vail at We’ll report the results at the end of this
From “Change Happens” Lighthouse found that board members in high-performing districts had a stronger belief in their ability to influence their students’ education. And this was true regardless of the size of the district, the board members’ educational level, or the district’s location (urban, suburban, or rural).
“Conditions for Change” 1. Shared Leadership 2. Continuous Improvement and Shared Decision Making 3. Ability to Create and Sustain Initiatives 4. Supportive Workplace for Staff 5. Staff Development 6. Support for School Sites through Data and Information 7. Community Involvement Source: Iowa School Boards Association’s Lighthouse Project
From “The Leading Source” “Be Prepared” is OK. “Be Ready” is better. In doing the story, however, I realized … the most successful boards hadn’t simply learned to weather change -- to “be prepared,” in Scout jargon -- but they were truly “ready” for this change and were often initiating it and embracing it, despite the fact that all change involves discarding some time-honored traditions and habits and moving into the unknown. Source: January 8, 2008http://leadingsource.asbj.com
So, are you doing what it takes to be ready?
Poll: Are you ready for change? True or False: Our district has a detailed crisis management plan in the event of a school shooting or some other form of tragedy involving students and staff. Comments on this question? Kathleen Vail at We’ll report comments at the end of this
District: Questions to ask Are the board and superintendent, in a retreat or some other informal setting, annually forecasting the short-term (1 year) and long-term (5 to 7 years) changes that will take place in your district? When was the last time you reviewed your district’s mission statement and crisis plans? Do they sit on a shelf gathering dust, or are they living documents? When they’re read aloud, do you feel like you are listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher? Do your board’s goals match the current mission statement?
Staff: Questions to ask Do you have a mentoring program in place for new teachers? Do you have a formal process for cultivating prospective school-level and central office administrators – aka “a farm team.” When major changes are afoot, do you have a system in place for notifying your staff first before the news is sent to the community?
Poll: Are you ready for change? True or False: The general public does not understand that schools are changing and evolving constantly. Comments on this question? Kathleen Vail at We’ll report comments at the end of this
Community: Questions to ask Does your district have a communications plan that addresses how you will engage the community around major change initiatives? Does your board and administration believe that internal/external communications is an investment worth making, even if other areas have to be trimmed? Does the board have a systemic way to meet regularly with the community to get feedback on how the school district is performing?
ASBJ: Resources Letters to the Editor: Reader Panel: The Leading Source: Glenn Cook Kathleen Vail