There appears to be some internal confusion around the concept of the new Site Superintendent position. Please accept this as our effort to fully inform you about the position and to collectively address the questions that have been raised.
How the concept evolved
Very early on in Roark’s visits with our partner districts, he ascertained that one of the major issues facing us was clear and easy access to information about our services. On almost every visit he was told that LEA’s chose to not fully explore AEA opportunities because they were either unaware of those opportunities or, if they did try to explore a bit, the complexity of figuring out ‘who to contact for what’ was daunting. He was expressing to them that he wanted our agency to be the first place they called for help; they told him if that was the goal, we needed to provide procedures so they could access our system quickly and effectively.
The answer to this dilemma was to find some way for them to have one person to call for their needs; it would be ideal if this person were someone who they had a prior relationship with, or someone they could build a relationship with quickly.
Additionally, recent retirements at the administrative and management levels had resulted in changes in coverage with the Area Director duties. This factor supported the design of a new model to address these responsibilities. This new model needed to be responsive to a combination of onsite building issues, district services, and AEA staff needs, with the ongoing goal of maintaining a continuity of services to our educational partners and AEA 267 staff.
Knowing that resources were tight and getting tighter, it made sense to look at these as two parts of the same problem, as opposed to two different problems. The challenge was to improve our accessibility to our LEA partners, while at the same time providing everyday decision-makers on site.
That was the birth of the Site Superintendent concept. We were able to implement this on a pilot basis in Clear Lake starting January 1, and we have received such strong feedback that the board decided in March to make that position permanent and establish a similar position at the Marshalltown office. Both positions will be funded by a portion of the dollars saved through attrition and reduction in administration and management personnel.
What is a Site Superintendent?
A Site Superintendent is a ‘one call’ access point for our LEA partners with any questions or issues they have for the AEA. While requests can still be made through individual staff members, this position offers a quick way to get information and assistance when others are out in the field. In a sense, a Site Superintendent serves as a liaison between LEA partners and our services. The person also assists districts with management needs such as transportation training, OSHA questions, and buildings and ground issues.
At the same time, the person is on site to serve as a daily presence in the building and to provide the day-to-day decision-making service necessary to allow our sites to work with maximum efficiency.
Executive leadership experience is sought for this position so that service can be provided at all levels. In other words, if administrators in our partner districts need help, they are going to want to speak to or work with someone who has experience with the issues they are dealing with. There are also elements of facility management associated with this position in the sense that major contracted work for our property is sought and funneled through the Site Superintendent. Also, experienced decision-makers are optimal for helping staff with the complexity of their issues; most often this will occur using a consultative model.
It would be impossible to give a full listing of how a Site Superintendent will serve the Agency, as during our pilot in Clear Lake we have seen uses and support not even dreamed of when the position was conceived. Having said that, some very apparent advantages include: someone on site to consult, someone who will listen to your issues and provide support and guidance, someone who will be able to help clarify procedures and expectations, and someone who will make decisions on practical matters such as weather calls. A Site Superintendent is not charged with evaluating certified staff, but may be responsible for evaluation and management of clerical and custodial staff at each site.
This concept and position is truly an effort to serve both our partners and our internal staff, and to solve the dual problems mentioned above.