A look at short-term school superintendents

- Another school superintendent is shown the door.  This time, it’s St. Paul Superintendent Valeria Silva. No one ever said the job was easy, but lately it seems they don't stick around very long.
As superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools, Valeria Silva has faced a variety of challenges from student-on-staff violence to falling reading test scores, but her six years as head of the district is actually twice the national norm.

"When you look across the country the average urban superintendent serves for about three years. That in my opinion is not a good thing for the school system," said Gary Amoroso, member of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

Of the last four St. Paul superintendents, three, including Silva held the job for at least six years with only one staying a single three-year term.

SPPS Superintendents
Valeria Silva - 6
Meria Carstarphen - 3
Pat Harvey - 6
Curman Gaines – 7

But Minneapolis has had more frequent turnover with Thandiwe Peebles only in that position for a year and a half and that's not counting several interim superintendents.

MPS Superintendents
Bernadeia Johnson - 5
William Green - 3
Thandiwe Peebles – 1.5
Carol Johnson - 6

"The role of superintendents in our state and country has become much more political," said Amoroso.

Amoroso says school boards are getting increasingly impatient if they don't see results in a year or two.
With new school board members being elected every couple of years, they can be quick to pull the trigger to go in a different direction - even if it puts the district back at square one.

"Now in society we want instant results and it doesn't occur,” said Amoroso. “It takes time for change to become part of the culture and hopefully to see the positive results."

Amoroso says stable leadership helps everyone in the district reach their ultimate goal.

"Because that has the best chance of providing what we all want - increased opportunities, increased achievement for all our students," he said.

Amoroso says if true, the buyout isn't a golden parachute, but rather the district simply honoring Silva's contract.

The Star Tribune says the school board is expected to approve the buyout and announce an interim superintendent on Tuesday.


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