August 6, 2019
Welcome 2019-20 New Superintendents to the IASA New Superintendents Update
We hope your first several weeks on the job have been professionally and personally rewarding. We know how challenging your new position is and IASA is here to support you not only during this your first year but for all the years you are a school superintendent. For those of you who attended the IASA New Superintendents’ Conference on July 31 st and August 1st we hope you found the conference informative, relaxing (especially the trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum for dinner) and collaborative. You met many other new superintendents and hopefully you have continued a dialogue with these new friends. For those of you who did not attend the conference, we hope to meet you soon and offer our services to you.

The two days were very busy with presentations from a wide range of professionals. As mentioned at the conference, the real purpose of the conference is for you to meet the various professionals that are available for your consultation. Feel free to access us whenever the need occurs.

This Update is a publication that IASA produces to keep you informed and up-to-date on issues critical to your success as a new superintendent. The update will be sent out weekly so be sure to look for it in your Inbox.

Time Management

I recently read an article on time management and it listed these six strategies to manage your time:

  1. Schedule downtime and regular activities. One thing I learned to do, especially as I gained experience in the superintendency, was to start my day in a different school building. I made 3x5 cards for the name of each employee in the school district. My assistant would give me five to seven cards per day. My job was to make contact with the employees and talk to them. This included all employees—teachers, custodians, cooks, bus drivers, teacher aides, administrators, support staff, etc. I would write something down on the card that I learned from the visit and return the cards to my assistant. This process would continue until I had talked to all employees and then my assistant would re-shuffle the cards and I would start again. I did not always get to all cards in a particular day and I would keep the card until I talked to that employee. This is a great way of obtaining information from the district’s employees and also making yourself visible to the school community.
  2. Include buffers between meetings. The idea of placing items on your calendar is very important. If you get into the habit of following your calendar you will find yourself more productive. Schedule time for self and also for private think time or private work time in your calendar.
  3. Master the art of delegation. Some of you are small school superintendents and do not have anybody to delegate jobs to. Some of you do have help and can delegate responsibilities. I have been both a small school district and a large school superintendent. It is easier to be a large school superintendent because you do have help. Still, there are other time commitments that come with a large school superintendent position. The key is that, if someone else can complete the task do not hesitate to delegate the task so you can spend time doing important functions of the job.
  4. Set yourself up for tomorrow, the day before. Again, this refers to calendaring your day. Try to get the difficult jobs done early in the day. This is especially true for “difficult conversations” you may have with employees.
  5. Include time to develop yourself and your team. Take advantage of the IASA mentor who has been assigned to you. These individuals were all successful superintendents and they can help you gain knowledge and insights into solving problems. In addition, collaborate with fellow superintendents in your region or maybe some individuals you met in school or at the New Superintendents’ Conference. Being a superintendent can be lonely, but this is true only if you make it a lonely position. Reach out to others for help, guidance and coaching.
  6. Use email with caution. Have a process for answering and writing emails. If you start this new superintendent position with answering all email immediately, that is what everybody will expect. Instead, try to develop a process of checking email at specific times of the day such as first thing in the morning, before lunch, and before you leave work at the end of the day. Do not get tied to any electronic device so it controls and consumes the day.

ISBE Financial Consultants

Assistance with school finance continues to be the number one request we receive from new superintendents. All the IASA Field Services Directorsyour mentorsare experienced and prepared to answer your questions and refer you to experts if necessary.

In case you are not aware, ISBE employs several regional financial consultants serving the various geographical areas of the state. These consultants are top-notch school finance experts. I have worked with every one of them and they do outstanding work. I would recommend that if you need any financial help you email the consultant for your area and schedule an appointment. Obviously, now is the time you should be finalizing your school district’s budget. In addition, ISBE developed an Excel five-year projection software that you may want to use to predict future district fund balances and trends.

You can identify the correct regional financial consultant by clicking on the following link to the ISBE website: click here
Communication to the Public

Several years ago when I was campaigning for a building referendum, a prominent citizen in the community asked me why I only communicate to the public when the school district is asking for something like raising taxes to build a building or to balance the budget. He made a very good point. In reaction to this criticism, I started to communicate much more regularly with the public. I arranged with the local newspaper to write a column titled “Superintendent Scribbles,” so I could communicate current education-related topics to the community. In addition, a monthly newsletter was mailed to all registered voters, as well as a more detailed piece to parents of school-age children.

Many of the “digital” parents of today don’t read newspapers and many told me they would rather receive the district newsletter online than in the mail. One way to reach these “digital” parents is via Podcasting, Blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other electronic means. Parents and others can electronically subscribe to these communication vehicles and download the information.

The Fred Factor

A superintendent several years ago gave me the book The Fred Factor, by Mark Sanborn. I thought I would share some of the wisdom from this book for you. Fred is a postal carrier in Denver who has a great passion for his work and goes out of his way to service his postal customers. The author was one of Fred’s postal customers and Mark uses lessons learned from Fred when he makes business motivational talks around the country.

The Fred Principles:

  1. Everyone Makes a Difference: “Ultimately, the more valuable you are to others – the more value you create in your work or your interactions with others – the more value will eventually flow toward you. Faithfully doing your best, independent of the support, acknowledgment, or reward of others, is a key determination in a fulfilling career.” Are your school district employees just doing their jobs, or do they really care about what they are doing and take pride in their students’ accomplishments?
  2. Success Is Built on Relationships: “Indifferent people deliver impersonal service.” Do your teachers, administrators and staff really care about the students? Do they build relationships with all students, especially with those who have trouble learning or behaving correctly? Do high school teachers really believe in the high school mantra, Rigor, Relationships and Relevance?
  3. You Must Continually Create Value for Others, and It Doesn’t Have To Cost a Penny: “In today’s economy, a high-school or college graduate should expect to be unemployed a few times during his or her career. But that unemployment will be brief as long as the individual is employable.” Are we meeting the needs of our students as we head through the 21st Century? Jobs that are not even imagined today will be here tomorrow. Are our students ready?
  4. You Can Reinvent Yourself Regularly: “I believe that no matter what job you hold, what industry you work in, or where you live, every morning you wake up with a clean slate. You can make business, as well as your life, anything you choose it to be. That’s what I call the Fred Factor.” Are your employees reinventing themselves regularly? As superintendent, do you lead by example?

Tips for the Week

Just as you desire your principals to visit classrooms on a regular basis and teachers to move around the classrooms and work with students, then you also need to visit classrooms and buildings. Try to make it a point to visit one school per day and, when in that school, to visit one classroom. In addition to talking to classroom teachers and the building administration, please take time to talk to janitors, cooks, secretaries and other support staff. These are the people in your community whom others will see as “creditable” as to what kind of person you are. Give them some of your time, ask for and listen to their suggestions, and even act on some of their suggestions. They will sing your praises in the community.
For more information, please contact:

Dr. Richard Voltz
Associate Director
Professional Development/Induction-Mentoring
2648 Beechler Court
Springfield, IL 62703
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