An assistant superintendent may oversee an operational area or a geographical region for an educational system. The position is near the top of the chain of command for an educational system, and typically reports to the superintendent or deputy superintendent, along with a governing education board. Overall, an assistant superintendent helps formulate policies while following all applicable laws and regulations set by the governing board. An assistant superintendent may head certain areas, such as finance, curriculum, facilities, or human resources. Depending on the size of the school system, an assistant superintendent may oversee more than one area.
Decisions and recommendations made by an assistant superintendent are generally geared toward the overall operation of a school system, rather than an individual school or campus. Many school systems stress that all decisions should be geared toward increasing student achievement. Assistant superintendents are expected to evaluate whether certain programs meet this goal.
Analyzing classroom reports or test scores are just two ways that programs may be evaluated. Criteria for programs not directly tied to the classroom may include whether they are cost effective and support a good learning environment for students. For these reasons, assistant superintendents are expected to be well-versed with the latest trends and research in their area of expertise.
Assistant superintendents need strong leadership, communication, and people skills. A key function of the position is an ability to express ideas and be persuasive in making recommendations. Assistant superintendents are typically called upon to make presentations at board meetings or explain issues to colleagues, parents, or the public. Additionally, assistant superintendents will likely be responsible for making hiring recommendations. Hiring and managing employees requires fairness, objectivity, and an ability to recognize employees' strengths and weaknesses.
An assistant superintendent serves in a high-profile position in a school system. For that reason, the job can produce a lot of stress. Part of the stress related to the job involves dealing with any crisis or controversy that may arise, whether it be about staffing decisions or budget issues. Confidentiality is also required in handling sensitive student information or employee performance issues. Assistant superintendents may serve on various district or community boards, such as a budget development committee or a community advisory board that handles attendance issues.
Depending on the area an assistant superintendent oversees, he or she may have extensive contact with the public. Part of the duties may involve overseeing volunteers or parent groups. This and many other aspects of the job requires an ability to build consensus and resolve conflicts. Relating to the public also requires an understanding of the school system's demographics and an ability to effectively communicate with all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.