The Place You Call Home

by Mary Riley

Where do you really want to live?

School boards sometimes want their superintendents to live within school district boundaries. It has something to do with encouraging opportunities for informal communication and generally connecting with the community. If the superintendent has school-age children, it serves as an outward indicator that the schools must be good.

As with most decisions, living in the school district has its advantages and disadvantages. For me, much depends on the size of the community. I have an urban background and my husband has a rural background. We still have not fully mastered the art of living in suburbia, but we continue to try. And we have tried living inside as well as living outside the school districts where he has worked, including seven residences during superintendencies in four communities.

We also have tried both buying and renting residences, depending on local conditions. My husband once commuted four hours a day to his superintendent’s job in another state so that I could get a better job. We now live only three miles from his new office in a neighboring district to the one where he works.

I believe this is one place where school boards need to show some flexibility and consider individual family needs. Much more remains at stake than board members providing assurances to the community that the new superintendent is “one of us.” Privacy, space and convenience all count a lot. Unlike field hands, superintendents should have some choices about where to live, where their spouse works and where their children get educated, play and make friends.

— Mary Riley

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