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Superintendent staying power: DA editors look back over 15 years at the tenure of the men and women who have led the 10 largest districts in the nation.

A DISTRICT IS AS stable and grounded as its superintendent, according to some leaders and education experts. And given findings in a recent report from the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS), which specifically states that the average tenure of urban superintendents increased from 2.3 years in 1999 to 3.6 years in 2010, an increase of 56 percent, educators across the nation are celebrating.

"It's good to see tenure going up," says Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), which released a similar report, "The American School Superintendent: 2010 Decennial Study," in December. "It's become very apparent, and the research is strong in that area, that one of the key elements in running a successful district is stability. So if you have a revolving door, it's counterproductive, and there's never a chance to establish reforms or create programs that make a difference. Even a three-year period of time is inadequate."

Specifically, longer superintendent tenure has a positive effect on student achievement, according to research by McREL, a nonprofit research group based in Denver. It found a positive correlation between longevity and academic achievement. District leaders who focus on the right goals, manage change effectively and stick around long enough to see results tend to have higher-performing students.

"Tenure absolutely matters," says Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, a training center funded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation that prepares successful American leaders to run urban school districts and improve student achievement. The center has trained Abelardo Saavedra, who was the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District from 2004 to 2009, and John Deasy, who takes over as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District this month.

"We expect them to be superintendent at least five years if they want to make the impact they want," she says. "They can clear out a lot of debris and right things that are incredibly wrong in a short time, but if you really want to lay a foundation and make things last and get the district where it needs to be, you need to stay longer."

The CGCS's report, "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey, represents the leaders in the largest urban school districts. The CGCS represents 65 districts, serving 7.2 million K12 students among the nation's 48.7 million and about one-third of the nation's low-income and minority students. Michael Casserly, the organization's executive director, says the "promising trend" of extended tenure might be the result of a number of factors, including the costs, time and energy associated with finding and securing new superintendents. The school board, which in many cases decides if a superintendent stays with a district or not, unless the superintendent is retiring or leaving for personal reasons, has become more aware. Board members understand the costs of turning over their administrative leadership so frequently and realize that such dedicated, quality school leaders "don't grow on trees," Casserly says.

"They are recognizing how shallow the pool is."

As the accompanying charts for some of these school districts show, some district chiefs have served six years or more over the past few years, including NYC Chancellor Joel Klein, who served eight years and Hillsborough County's Earl Lennard who served nearly nine years.

Bernard Hamilton, who is president-elect of the National Association of Black School Educators, adds that the nation needs more African-American superintendents due to the high number of African-American students in public schools. "That the number of superintendents is less representative of the student population tells us that there is not enough attention given to this need," he says.

Casserly says board members have implemented over the past decade more objective procedures that can better evaluate superintendents. "It's a far more objective and grounded set of explicit goals, which results in a less political evaluation process," he says. "At one time, tenure was often determined by feelings. It's still a relevant factor, but more superintendents are hired and evaluated based on explicit goals that the administration must attain."

Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of the Miami-Dade Public Schools and president-elect of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), says the dire economy that the nation is undergoing has possibly played a role. "Tough economic times previously might have resulted in greater conflict with the board and/or the community," he says. "That would often lead to a superintendent's ouster. But we're entering a new reality. And this tough economic time we're in now is a protracted one. It has not been a one-year event, and people are electing officials and recognizing that stability is a key factor of good leadership."

He adds, "More people realize we have to manage the problem and deal with it"--not just get rid of a superintendent when times get rough.

Stressful Job Gets More Stressful

As Carvalho describes it, a school superintendent's job is typically flail of juggling various tasks, including dealing with teacher quality issues; student achievement; equity for all students regardless of income, race or ethnicity; new federal guidelines on funding and programs; and new accountability demands. "It's an extremely noble and honorable position," he says, adding that it demands skills, passion and compassion. He believes a key element of the job is the ability to navigate change. "Stability--the economic stability, policy stability and accountability stability--are not necessarily guaranteed," he says.

Top superintendents agree that this year has been an even greater challenge as they, as well as the nation, have struggled to continue to produce successful students while seeing funding plummet or, at best, stay the same. Doing more with less is now the standard. "I can't think of one organization that is under more pressure than urban public schools to improve," Casserly says. "That stress is focused on superintendents as the leaders of the organization. And I think that pressure has become more pronounced with budget cuts, pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the onset of the new Common Core Standards in reading and math, plus the new assessments that districts need to follow.... And everyone wants more and wants it faster at a smaller expense. It was a high-pressure job under the best of circumstances. And I've seen the pressure of this job increase almost exponentially over the last few years."

Knight of the Broad Center suggests the job has become more stressful in part because expectations have risen. "Incremental change is no longer enough, and there is a growing realization that we need to dramatically increase student achievement and have kids be college and career ready," she adds. "People are finally realizing that we have a real crisis in urban education. We are much further behind as a nation than where we should be, globally and in terms of achievement gaps."

Domenech says that a superintendent is often the target for community anger when services are cut and employees are laid off. He adds that criticism is no longer isolated to board meetings but has been expanded due to technology; through which community members and the media can criticize the superintendent via blogs and e-mail.

Education Experience Still King

Most education experts agree that the best leaders understand the business side of running a district and know what is needed to improve achievement, but they have various opinions about what other qualities make the best kind of superintendent. Despite the big headline stories in several large urban districts in which business managers or private sector people have been plucked to pull those districts out of near financial collapse and lagging student achievement, the CGCS's survey found that 91 percent of superintendents in 2010 still have K12 education backgrounds.

Yet the percentage of superintendents who have come from careers in fields such as business, nonprofit administration, or the military is greater in the cities. Casserly says the CGCS's annual survey usually shows these nontraditional superintendents comprise anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the urban superintendents. "I think it's a good thing that we have as many non-traditionals as we do," he says. "They bring a different kind of experience with fresh ideas, flesh blood and energy, all of which are helpful to us as we are trying to improve public education in the big cities."

Knight believes that each leader needs to understand how to make strategic decisions in terms of allocating resources and human capital and how to engage the community. A traditional superintendent needs to know the business side, even if he or she was an excellent instructor and/or principal, and the former business leader needs to know the key levers for impacting student achievement and teaching and learning. "It doesn't mean someone outside education is a panacea," she adds. "There are good and bad leaders in the private sector."

Carvalho adds that leadership qualities are transferrable in education. "I think regardless of background, interested individuals who understand the product line and their constituency and the core function we represent could successfully lead," he says.

But Domenech draws a line, saying that knowledge of the education operation is "critical" to success as a district leader. "If you don't have that, then you are simply a manager," he says. "You can't be an educational leader if you've never been in the classroom or run a school."

He accepts that business leaders or CEOs of school districts can lead if they have a deputy who can run the instructional side of the district, such as the case in New York City, where Shael Polakow-Suransky was appointed to serve as chief academic officer with the rank of senior deputy chancellor, directly under the system's new chancellor, Cathie Black, a former magazine and newspaper executive with no education experience.

Female Leaders

The CGCS's and AASA's reports also point out that there are more female superintendents than there have been in the past decade. The largest increase in urban districts is of white women, who went from 0 to 9 percent from 1999 to 2010, the CGCS's report states. The AASA's report is more promising, revealing that 24 percent of superintendents nationwide are women. Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and New York City's Black are leading three of the 10 largest school districts. But the CGCS's report also reveals a slight decrease in the percentage of Hispanic and black female superintendents. Both Carvalho and Hamilton say the numbers are alarming. "This decrease is a wake-up call to all minorities," Hamilton says. "We should all be concerned with this decline."

Because Hispanics have become the largest minority group in the nation, Carvalho believes they should have a larger representation in school leadership.

"I do believe the talent is there," he says. Carvalho adds that all stakeholders, such as the community, elected school boards and superintendents, have a responsibility to identify, groom and hire qualified leaders.

"One of my goals as president-elect of ALAS is to grow the organization commensurate with the national demographics and use this organization as a platform," he explains. He wants to ensure more minorities are represented in school administration to reflect the diverse student population.

Reasons for Leaving the Job

Despite the challenges, superintendents for the most part, still remain satisfied with the job, according to the AASA report.

But only half of the respondents--51 percent--stated they planned to remain a superintendent by 2015, a finding that suggests a substantial turnover of power in the next few years.

Often, superintendents are faced with a dissatisfied board, or they seek a new challenge at another district or in the private sector. Hamilton says, "Superintendents may be leaving more now than in the past because of greater opportunities for them in the public and private sectors," he says. "The number of opportunities is much greater than ever before for our skilled superintendents."

Casserly believes more superintendents are simply retiring. "It takes awhile to move up the ranks to the leadership levels, and after a number of years, a lot of them simply retire because they are old enough to do so," he says.

Carvalho adds that superintendents might just move on, or away from district administration, due to burnout from the stressful job that demands juggling various tasks.

But Knight says the relationship between the school board and superintendent is paramount: "If a superintendent feels the board is not guiding the district in the right way, or if they feel they don't have a supportive board, it's almost impossible to be effective as a leader."

Unfortunately, in some big city school districts, including Miami-Dade, Washington, D.C., and Seattle, superintendents who have created smart reforms with positive results have been "removed too soon," says Thomas Payzant, professor of practice at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Boston Public Schools former superintendent. For example, he points to Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Seattle's former superintendent who was pushed out. But under her leadership, Seattle raised student achievement faster than dozens of other big cities nationwide, he says. "After four years of aggressive reforms that included closing underperforming schools and holding staff accountable under a new evaluation system, Goodloe-Johnson faced growing pushback from the teachers' union, community groups and the board," he says.

In other examples, Chicago Public Schools' CEO Paul Vallas resigned in 2001 after criticism from the mayor and after a new union president who ran on an anti-Vallas platform was elected. David Brewer III left Los Angeles Unified School District in 2008 under pressure by school board members and civic leaders who lost confidence in him, and Miami-Dade's former superintendent, Rudy Crew, and school board members agreed to part ways in 2008, after a year filled with racial recriminations, rising tensions over the school budget and declining enrollment.

And according to published news reports, when Roger C. Cuevas, Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent from 1996 to 2001, was voted out by the board, one board member reportedly criticized her colleagues for blaming Cuevas for the district's problems, saying the board never established clear goals or expectations and never gave him a chance to fix problems.

Domenech says when a relationship between a board and a superintendent sours, the source is "almost entirely political," sometimes involving a change in the composition of the board. "A new board comes in, and they might feel they want their own person. And maybe the new members of the board ran for a particular agenda which was different from what the superintendent supported."

Domenech adds that without the various spats between school board members and superintendents, "most superintendents would love to stay longer. A lot of districts do hold on to their superintendents, and they reward them financially and with support and praise."

(1) New York City Department of Education (a)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 5.1 years


Superintendent: CATHIE BLACK--January 2011-present

Background: Black was appointed by NYC Mayor Bloomberg in a controversial move given her lack of education experience. The state granted Black a waiver to become chancellor after appointing a chief academic officer to serve with the rank of senior deputy chancellor. Before becoming chancellor, Black was widely credited for her team building as president of Hearst Magazine Division and publisher at USA Today. She is the first female chancellor.


Superintendent: JOEL KLEIN--July 2002-November 2010

Accomplishments: Klein, the city's longest-serving chancellor, served in the White House Counsel's office under President Clinton before being appointed to the U.S. Department of Justice. As chancellor, Klein focused on developing a uniform citywide curriculum. Under his leadership, the graduation rate for eight years reached a historic high of 63 percent in 2009.

Reason for leaving: Klein left for a newly created position as CEO of the Education Division at News Corp.


Superintendent: HAROLD LEVY--January 2000-November 2002

Accomplishments: Levy was the last chancellor elected by an independent board of education. A former lawyer, he served during the end of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's term and the beginning of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's. Levy handed more power to superintendents, overhauled the teacher recruitment process, pushed for new teachers union contracts that included pay raises and sought to privatize some failing schools.

Reason for leaving: Levy left his post to make way for a chief handpicked by the mayor.


Superintendent: RUDOLPH F. CREW--October 1995-December 1999

Accomplishments: Crew led many reforms, including adopting curriculum standards for all schools, eliminating tenure for principals and introducing school-based budgeting. He was instrumental in closing failing schools and replacing failing educators. He established the Math and Science Institute and created the Superintendents' and Principals' Institute to cultivate and nurture school leaders.

Reason for leaving: Crew left his post after a battle over a plan by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to experiment with school vouchers.

(2) Los Angeles Unified School District (b)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 3.5 years


Superintendent: JOHN DEASY--April 2011-present

Background: Deasy will replace Ramon Cortines, who is retiring on April 15, and will face a $400 million shortfall in its $6 billion operating budget for the 2011-2012 school year. Deasy was the deputy director of education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2008 and was chief of Prince George's County (Md.) Public Schools from 2006-2008.


Superintendent: RAMON CORTINES--December 2008-April 2011

Accomplishments: Cortines, who was the city's former deputy mayor for Education, Youth and Families from 2006-2008, cut $1.5 billion from the budget over two years. He laid off nearly 3,000 teachers and improved school safety, attendance and the dropout rate. Cortines struggled with the LAUSD school board to limit the number of privatized charter schools taking over low-performing schools in the district.

Reason for leaving: He retired, saying he was exhausted from the job.


Superintendent: DAVID BREWER Ill--October 2006-December 2008

Accomplishments: Brewer, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral with no education experience, steered the district to improve test scores, In 2007-2008, the dropout rate of LAUSD was down to 26 percent---a 32 percent decrease from the previous year and one of the largest improvements in California.

Reason for leaving: Under pressure by school board members and civic leaders who lost confidence in him, Brewer left the post, ending his four-year contract early.


Superintendent: ROY ROMER--June 2000-October 2006

Accomplishments: Romer, a former three-term Colorado governor, led the district in improving standardized test scores of elementary school students and led a massive school construction project, which relieved crowding in schools.

Reason for leaving: Romer retired after six years.


Superintendent: RUBEN ZACARIAS--July 1997-January 2000

Accomplishments: Zacarias, who spent his career at LAUSD, first joined the district as an elementary school teacher in 1966 and rose to become deputy superintendent in 1992. He led the district in improving test scores by two percentile points each year and also opened four primary care centers in 1998.

Reason for leaving: The district bought out his contract midway through his four-year term.


Superintendent: SID THOMPSON--June 1993-June 1997

Accomplishments : Thompson, the district's first African-American superintendent, moved the district from financial crisis to reform mode. He developed the Call to Action plan that sets five-year goals for increasing student academic standards, and created LEARN, the school reform coalition formally known as the Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now.

Reason for leaving: Thompson retired and moved on to USC and UCLA to conduct research on student achievement and teach courses on school administration.

(3) Chicago Public Schools (c)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 5.1 years


Superintendent:. TERRY MAZANY--November 2010-present

Accomplishments: Mazany, who had served as president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, a leading philanthropic institution in Chicago, has so far seen 86 percent of eligible high school graduates complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms in 2010, up from just 65 percent four years age. The increase is due to an aggressive FAFSA completion campaign by the district's Office of College and Career Preparation.


Superintendent: RON HUBERMAN--January 2009-November 2010

Accomplishments: Huberman, who had been mayoral chief of staff and Chicago Transit Authority head, addressed inner-city violence with an extensive security plan. He implemented intensive mentoring for Chicago students at risk of being shot, a greater police presence in dangerous areas, an upgrade of security forces in schools and increased cooperation between the district, schools and Chicago police.

Reason for leaving: He resigned after Mayor Daley, his boss, announced he would not run again for re-election.


Superintendent: ARNE DUNCAN--June 2001-December 2008

Accomplishments: Duncan created an education reform agenda that included opening more than 100 new, state-of-the-art schools, expanding after-school and summer learning programs, closing underperforming schools, boosting the caliber of teachers and building public-private partnerships. Under his tenure, an all-time high of 67 percent of elementary students met or exceeded state reading standards, 71 percent met or exceeded the state's math standards and AP courses tripled.

Reason for leaving: Appointed U.S. Secretary of Education in January 2009.


Superintendent: PAUL VALLAS--July 1995--June 2001

Accomplishments: Vallas, who was the first Chicago CEO appointed by the mayor, brought order to the failing system. Labeled as the "worst" district in the nation by former Education Secretary William Bennett, Vallas raised test scores, improved relations with the teachers union, balanced the budget, instituted mandatory summer-school and after-school programs and expanded alternative, charter and magnet schools.

Reason for leaving: He resigned and ran for governor of Illinois in 2002 and placed second in the Democratic primary. He was appointed CEO of the School District of Philadelphia in July 2002.

(4) Miami-Dade County Public Schools (d)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 3.9 years


Superintendent: ALBERTO CARVALHO--September 2008-present

Accomplishments: Carvalho took over a district facing a $100 million shortfall He closed the gap without firing teachers, raising taxes or cutting classroom spending. Instead, he reduced administrative spending by 52 percent and, as a result, increased the district's financial reserves to $77 million. Student achievement has dramatically improved with 205 schools, which is nearly half of the district, receiving an accountability grade of an "A" under a state law.


Superintendent: RUDOLPH E CREW--May 2004-September 2008

Accomplishments: Crew transformed the district through innovations such as the Parent Academy, the School Improvement Zone and the Secondary Reform initiative. He overhauled the district's construction practices, which wasted millions of dollars before 2004. He raised student achievement, fired dozens of underperforming principals and pushed for more Advanced Placement courses.

Reason for leaving: Crew and the school board agreed to part ways in 2008, after a year filled with rising tensions over the school budget and declining enrollment.


Superintendent: MERRETT STIERHEIM--October 2001-June 2004

Accomplishments: Stierheim was formerly the county manager of Miami-Dade County and former CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. He cut $25 million in administrative costs and worked with unions to have teachers and staff take two days off without pay during the year to save another $14 million.

Reason for leaving: His contract expired and he became a mediation, arbitration and management consultant.


Superintendent: ROGER CUEVAS--December 1996-September 2001

Accomplishments: Cuevas served during a huge influx of immigration, which resulted in extreme overcrowding, In his first year, Cuevas designated 69 schools as neighborhood learning centers to provide a gathering place for the community, and ultimately to improve student achievement.

Reason for leaving: Cuevas was fired for poor management skills.

(5) Clark County (Nevada) School District (e)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 7.2 years


Superintendent: DWIGHT JONES--December 2010-present

Background: Jones, former commissioner of education in Colorado, hopes to be a game changer for the district and plans to make systemic changes. The last time he served as superintendent was in 2007 at Fountain Fort-Carson (Colo.) School District Eight--a district 40 times smaller than Clark County.


Superintendent: WALT RULFFES--June 2005-November 2010

Accomplishments: Rulffes, previously the district's chief financial officer, served as interim superintendent in 2005 before being appointed superintendent in January 2006. Rulffes improved graduation and dropout rates through programs that allow select school principals greater autonomy in exchange for improved performance. Board members said he improved accountability and community involvement.

Reason for leaving: Retired after 12 years with the district.


Superintendent: CARLOS GARCIA--April 2000-July 2005

Accomplishments: Garcia's leadership improved math and reading instruction, tripled the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses and united Nevada's 17 county school districts within the state, which led to greater educational funding throughout the state.

Reason for leaving: He left district leadership to become vice president of National Urban Markets at McGraw-Hill Education.


Superintendent: BRIAN CRAM--June 1989-July 2000

Accomplishments: Cram ran the district as it endured unprecedented growth. The district doubled in size and went from the being the nation's 17th-largest public school system in 1989 to its sixth-largest in 2000. Cram worked to get the district bond money for new school construction.

Reason for leaving: Cram retired from the superintendency, but continued to work as a champion of education, harnessing the power of collaboration between public entities and corporate citizens for education.

(6) Broward County (Fla.) Public Schools (f)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 6.1 years


Superintendent: JAMES F. NOTTER--November 2006-present

Accomplishments: Not[er is a 37-year veteran of education who started his career as a school teacher in New York. As superintendent, he has overhauled the district's instructional technology, created a plan to reduce class size and increased attendance and performance in the county's adult academic and technical programs.


Superintendent: FRANKLIN L TILL, JR.--August 1999-November 2006

Accomplishments: Till began the Urban Teacher Academy Project to encourage graduating high school seniors to pursue teaching and work within the district to curb its teacher shortage. He also built coalitions with neighboring counties to help the district.

Reason for leaving: The board of education fired him in part for what they say was poor performance. He went on to work as the superintendent of Cumberland County (N.C.) Schools in 2009.


Superintendent: FRANK R. PETRUZIELO--February 1994-January 1999

Accomplishments: Petruzielo improved schools on the state's list of failing schools, and raised academic and graduation standards. He turned down a proposal for a year-round school year and ended prolonged contract negotiations with the teachers union.

Reason for leaving: He left to become superintendent of Cherokee County (Ga.) Schools.

(7) Houston Independent School District (g)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 4.9 years


Superintendent: TERRY GRIER--September 2009-present

Accomplishments: Grier is well-regarded for reducing high-school dropout rates with innovative programs for at-risk students. He launched the Online Credit-Recovery Initiative to reduce the dropout rate and is committed to placing an effective teacher in every classroom and an exemplary principal in every school.


Superintendent: ABELARDO SAAVEDRA--June 2004-August 2009

Accomplishments: Saavedra, who first served as an interim superintendent, enacted a pay-for-performance program for teachers, streamlined district administration, built and equipped science labs in more than 100 elementary schools and started a credit recovery program. He also implemented a value-added growth model that led to higher student achievement and a college-bound culture among the students.

Reason for leaving: He retired, stating he achieved all he could in Houston.


Superintendent: KAYE STRIPLING--January 2001-June 2004

Accomplishments: Stripling won voter approval of an $808 million bond program to rebuild schools, implemented major changes to the district's dropout reporting policy and organized a citywide summit to seek solutions. She also broadened the focus on raising exam scores with programs that prepare students for college.

Reason for leaving: She retired, but continued informal lobbying in Austin on school business.


Superintendent: ROD PAIGE--February 1904-December 2000

Accomplishments: Paige, who held several posts at Texas Southern University including as dean of the school's College of Education, established Houston schools as one of the nation's top urban school districts, having improved test scores and academic performance. Paige also ended racial quotas in magnet school assignments and social promotion.

Reason for leaving: He left the superintendency to become U.S. Secretary of Education under George W. Bush.

(8) Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Schools (h)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 8.1 years


Superintendent:. MARYELLEN ELIA--July 2005-present

Accomplishments: Elia is a former magnet schools supervisor and chief facilities officer for the district. She has led Hillsborough schools in receiving its first "A" rating from the state after her first year in office, and the district has earned it twice since. Elia garnered national attention in late 2009 for beginning to revamp teacher evaluations in cooperation with the local union.


Superintendent: EARL LENNARD---July 1998-June 2005

Accomplishments: Lennard started teaching in the district in 1963 and worked his way up to chief. He was named Florida Superintendent of the Year in 2003 after the number of district schools rated "A" by the state increased from 39 to 63 in one year.

Reason for leaving: He left to pursue politics, eventually withdrawing from a state Senate race and later losing a 2007 bid for Florida education commissioner. Lennard was appointed Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections in 2009 by Gov. Charlie Crist.

(9) Hawaii Department of Education (i)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 5.1 years


Superintendent: KATHRYN MATAYOSHI--January 2010-present

Accomplishments: Matayoshi, who had served in the private, government and nonprofit sectors, including as director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, has expertise in policy and strategic planning, which was integral in transforming and streamlining the department's operations. Under her tenure as deputy superintendent of schools and then interim superintendent, the department won $75 million in Race to the Top funds and overcame budget challenges.


Superintendent: PAT HAMAMOTO--October 2001-December 2009

Accomplishments: Hamamoto, a 35-year-educator in Hawaii, guided the department through divisive money struggles and took her plan to trim $70 million from the budget live on cable TV in 2008. Under her leadership, the state Department of Education adopted standards-based education and implemented significant reform measures under the state's Reinventing Education Act of 2004 and No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Reason for leaving: She retired after eight years with the district.


Superintendent:. PAUL G. LEMAHIEU---June 1998-October 2001

Accomplishments: LeMahieu implemented rigorous educational standards in classrooms and improved special education services. He also brought assessment and accountability to schools.

Reason for leaving: He resigned in the midst of a state probe over a special education grant contract.


Superintendent: HERMAN AIZAWA--May 1994-April 1998

Accomplishments: Aizawa improved literacy and student achievement, increased school and community-based management and implemented new performance standards in every school despite a diminished budget and increased enrollment. Also under his tenure, state and district offices were restructured and reduced in size, every school had Internet capability and all high schools engaged in business-education partnerships that provided school-to-work opportunities for students.

Reason for leaving: He resigned after the board of education did not renew his four-year contract.

(10) Orange County (Fla.) Public Schools (j)

Average superintendent tenure over the last 15 years: 4.2 years


Superintendent: RONALD BLOCKER--July 2000-present

Accomplishments: Blocker was named 2011 Florida Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Under Blocker, the district received an "A" grade by the state over three consecutive years, the graduation rate i reached a new high in 2010 of 79 percent, 30 additional schools opened, 46 older schools were renovated or replaced and 1,000 portable classrooms were removed from campuses.


Superintendent: DENNIS SMITH--May 1997-June 2000

Accomplishments: Smith pledged to improve inadequate and run-down school buildings. He began an $850-million-dollar construction project including building 13 schools, and slashed bureaucracy to return resources back to schools. During his tenure, scores on standardized tests, AP tests and writing exams increased, as the state pushed for more accountability.

Reason for leaving: He wanted to balance career with quality of life and family, and resigned to lead the smaller Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District in California.


Superintendent: DONALD SHAW--March 1992-June 1997

Accomplishments: Shaw, a 35-year educator veteran of the school system, led the district to develop new academic standards for all students. He also listened to parents' concerns, specifically over year-round calendars for middle school students, and stopped the plan.

Reason for leaving: Shaw retired a year before his contract expired.

(a) Largest school district in the U.S.

(b) Second largest school district in the U.S.

(c) Third largest school district in the U.S.

(d) Fourth largest school district in the U.S.

(e) Fifth largest school district in the U.S.

(f) Sixth largest school district in the U.S.

(g) Seventh largest school district in the U.S.

(h) Eighth largest school district in the U.S.

(i) Ninth largest school district in the U.S.

(j) Tenth largest school district in the U.S.

29 percent of the Council of Great City Schools (CGCS) superintendents in 2010 have been in office for five or more years, up from 12 percent in 1999

Source: The CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey and Report

$10,000. The salary that male superintendents in CGCS member districts made above the average salary of female superintendents in 2010.

Source: CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary" Seventh Survey and Report

86 percent of CGCS superintendents are accountable to their school boards. 5 percent are accountable to both the school board and the mayor. 4 percent are accountable to the mayor only and 5 percent have other forms of accountability.

Source: The CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey and Report

$141,000 is the average benefits package for CGCS superintendents in 2010.

Source: CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey and Report

74 percent of CGCS superintendents were men in 2010. 38 percent of CGCS superintendents were white males, 27 percent were black males and 9 percent were Hispanic males.

Source: CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary" Seventh Survey and Report

39 percent of responding CGCS superintendents reported receiving financial bonuses or pay-for-performance checks. $5,000 to $65,000 was the range of bonus or pay-for-performance incentives in 2010.

Source: The CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey and Report

9 percent of CGCS superintendents in 2010 have been in office for one year or less, down from 36 percent in 1999.

Source: CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey and Report

47 percent of superintendents from CGCS member districts identified themselves as white; 41 percent of them as black; 11 percent as Hispanic as of 2010.

Source: CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey and Report

$157,000 to $329,000 is the range of salaries in 2010 for CGCS superintendents. 54 percent earned $250,000 or more in 2010. 6 percent of CGCS superintendents earned $250,000 or more in 1999.

Source: The CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey and Report

27 percent of CGCS superintendents were women in 2010. 14 percent of CGCS superintendents were black females, 9 percent were white females, 2 percent were Hispanic females and 2 percent were Asian females.

Source: The CGCS' "Urban School Superintendents: Characteristics, Tenure and Salary," Seventh Survey and Report

Research on the superintendent tenure chart of the 10 largest school districts was compiled with the use of various published news reports by Kurt Dyrli, Judy Hartnett, Marion Herbert, Stephanie Johns and Angela Pascopella.
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Author:Pascopella, Angela
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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