Understanding the Impact of Educational Governance at the Local Level: The Local School District Office

On the local level, educational governance is organized into four levels including the local school board, the local superintendent, the local school district, and the principle. This article highlights the details of the local school district office.

School governance at the local level emanates from the school district office. The number of district level administrators varies, depending on the size of the district. The superintendent is located at the local school district office. Additional district-level administrators are usually organized according to the function they fulfill. School district offices will typically have administrators and staff who are responsible for finance, student record keeping, hiring personnel, curriculum, teaching and instruction, assessment and evaluation, the provision of technology and school supplies/materials, and logistics (building maintenance and transportation). Their job titles reflect the functions they perform, to include deputy or assistant superintendent, coordinators, and directors.

Many of the functions of the local district office impact the work of teachers. District administrators who are focused on teacher learning, assessment, and evaluation directly influence the work of teachers with their students. Many local districts have curriculum specialists who oversee all matters related to curriculum and instruction for the district. They may be responsible for providing professional development opportunities by organizing workshops and ongoing training sessions relevant to the curricular needs of teachers. They are often in charge of organizing various curriculum based committees, as well as supervising the development of guides for local implementation of curriculum. These guides are typically organized by subject and may include appropriate outcomes and guidelines, possible topic areas to be covered, and sample assessment practices.

Local district staff is required to develop appropriate assessment measures to determine if students are meeting state standards by testing progress at several designated grade levels. They must also collect statistics (often based on student grades/achievement) to determine the effectiveness of instruction in the district. These data are required by different agencies at the federal, state, or local level.

Local school boards have been fixtures in the U.S. educational system for over a century, and they are responsible for representing the will of the people regarding school district governance. As a teacher, it’s a good idea for you to learn more about the school board’s duties and how it affects your day-to-day job. Even before you can be hired, the principal must present your credentials and a recommendation for hire at a local school board meeting. If the board decides that hiring you is not in the best interests of the district, they will reject the principal’s recommendation.

School boards also affect you as a teacher by implementing educational reforms such as student testing and graduation requirements. You should be aware that many school boards micromanage school system operations, and at times, they can make decisions that are merely political and have nothing to do with the best interests of the district’s students. This happens more often than one would think and can lead to a toxic work environment.

The local school board shapes curriculum and creates policies and procedures but also must align them with state and federal mandates. It will be helpful for you to know who sits on your school board and to make sure they know who you are.

The local school district office is the essential support of the superintendent and directly impacts teachers. Therefore their role within educational governance is necessary for the improvement of school systems. Continue to read articles in this segment to learn about the other levels of educational governance at the local level.

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