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Toolkit: Guidance for New Superintendents

New superintendents face a big challenge when it comes to putting the system’s resources behind a coherent and effective strategy:

  1. Understanding the lay of the land. We must understand the ways our current resource allocation decisions reflect our system’s values and strategy and what big shifts in resources may be necessary to achieve improved outcomesand this is beyond just knowing whether there’s a looming financial crisis.
  2. Weighing trade-offs. Understanding where resource reallocation options may be is a first step, but ultimately a system leader has to be able to assess the tradeoffs (political and otherwise) of potential decisions and advance a plan that deliberately balances risk and return.
  3. Moving quickly. Annual budget development processes often require major decisions to be made well in advance of the fiscal year. New superintendents often miss the opportunity to make change early on simply because their entry process is misaligned with budget development and school planning cycles.

Presentation from our January session:

This presentation was given to aspiring superintendents at the National Superintendents Academy on January 11, 2019.

Today's District Challenge:

Strategic Systems for Strong Schools:

  • Transform Now paper and Transform Now video
    School systems must better meet the needs of all students. And they can. But to succeed, we can’t just do more of the same. We need to transform.
  • Professional Learning Diagnostic Tool
    Does your school system have the conditions and practices in place to connect professional learning to the everyday work of teaching—and to a systemwide strategy for student success? Find out with this self-assessment tool.
  • Designing Schools that Work
    Learn how to reorganize your resources to yield high-performing schools. This paper outlines the six essentials of what we call strategic school design.


  • Budget Hold'em for Districts and Budget Hold'em for Schools
    We played Budget Hold'em for Districts during our session. Both versions are interactive explorations of the thoughtful trade-offs district and school leaders have to make as you consider how to invest your limited resources on what matters most—improving outcomes for our students. Play with your leadership teams!
  • Stategic System Snapshot | Mini and School Check
    These web-based tools are designed to help you dive into the transformational strategies that lead to better resource use. The Strategic System Snapshot | Mini (district level, previously called "Resource Check") and School Check (school level) are questionnaires that tally and analyze your responses to show how close you are to best practices and where there's potential for improvement. They both connect to resources to help you take action.

These tools and publications share key insights to resource allocation and can help you navigate these challenges in your own district. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Toolkit: Guidance for New Superintendents
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