Book Review                                              Page 45

The First-Year Experiences of

Successful Superintendents

by Kerry L. Roberts, Sid T. Womack and Shellie L. Hanna, Rowman & Littlefield Education, Lanham, Md., 2012, 142 pp., $45 hardcover, $22.95 softcover


School leaders preparing to become the superintendent typically take university courses and serve an internship. Such preparation is wise and helpful, but nothing will truly prepare anyone like the first days and weeks with the full responsibility for all the people in the school system.

In The First-Year Experiences of Successful Superintendents, Kerry Roberts, Sid Womack and Shellie Hanna raise an array of issues, large and small, that will inform new superintendents about their transition into this new role.

Using their own experiences and those of others who successfully transferred into the superintendent’s role, Roberts, Womack and Hanna explore creating an entry plan, moving into a new office, conducting the first board meeting and preparing to meet with key district and community leaders. Further, they address the board relationship, working with disgruntled patrons, finance and general operational issues. Perhaps the best chapter is the description of what to consider when seeking another superintendent position, something superintendents often face as their careers develop.

As thoroughly as the authors tackle these issues, they omit discussion of other important elements of the leadership transition. The chapter on school finance emphasizes procedural matters while avoiding a discussion of budget status reporting, enrollment forecasting, projecting spending and cash flow monitoring. Almost no mention is made of developing a strategy for collective bargaining and how the process defines the leadership context for the new superintendent. Too much focus is placed on issues that superintendents should delegate to other staff members.

The book acknowledges some important topics for the new superintendent, but fails to fully explore many others.

Reviewed by Brian L. Benzel vice president for finance and administration, Whitworth University, Spokane, Wash.

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